I’m gonna hang in there for the moment, but I’m dubious at best.

As an HIV activist and educator, I work very hard to spread the word that with treatment, almost everyone can achieve full viral suppression.

When people who are living with HIV are in treatment and when they reach “durably undetectable” status, they are unable to infect others sexually.

Treatment as Prevention (TASP) is working remarkably effectively as a public health strategy.

Part of the effectiveness lies in destigmatizing HIV and in encouraging frequent, routine testing.

The trope of the angry, hostile “AIDS Victim” running around infecting people is exactly opposite reality and counter to the message that HIV educators are trying to spread:

Once a person knows they have HIV, then they’re on the way to not being infectious anymore. Testing=safe.

In fact, stage legislatures are being urged to revise or eliminate laws that single out HIV transmission for criminal penalty. California just did so last summer.

We’re trying to let the public know that things have changed dramatically since the 80s and 90s. HIV is a chronic, manageable condition no different from other illnesses caused by pathogens, like hepatitis or TB.

I’m afraid that sensationalizing an “HIV vampire” would be sending exactly the wrong message.

Unless handled very, very carefully, that sort of story would tend to increase rather than decrease stigmatization.

Jim

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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