Stigma surrounding HIV wont stop these guys from living life to the fullest.
A brand new campaign video from GMFA shares the stories of eleven gay men, living with HIV, and declaring in no uncertain terms that it’s not held them back in the slightest.
The men in the video, which is part of their Living With HIV campaign, come from a wide range of backgrounds and professions, including a guy from the porn industry and a swimming coach. The men discuss how their careers, relationships, sex lives and hobbies have not been affected by their positive status.
GMFA’s Interim CEO, Ian Howley voiced his concern about the impact HIV stigma can have on those living with the virus. “In 2016, people living with HIV should not be feared or made to feel ashamed for having the virus,” he explained.
“Although recent work by GMFA and others has helped shift some of the stigma associated with the virus there is still a huge mountain to climb.”
The Living With HIV campaign hopes to not only educate people about HIV and the importance of testing and treatment, but also what means to live with the virus.
“In our recent survey, 90% of the HIV-positive men said they believe that stigma about HIV is likely to discourage gay men who’ve tested positive from disclosing their status to others – and 75% are themselves reluctant to tell others for fear of stigma,” Ian explained.
“For HIV stigma to be truly banished, attitudes within the gay community and beyond must continue to be challenged in order for them to change. HIV stigma doesn’t just affect those living with HIV but also those who are afraid to test for HIV because they’d ‘rather not know’. This type of attitude can be dangerous and lead to late diagnosis.”
The campaign video, and follow up support on GMFA’s website and in FS magazine, is designed to empower gay and bisexual men living with HIV, to say once and for all that “HIV is something that is a part of them, not who they are as people and doesn’t hold them back,” Ian concluded.
GMFA are encouraging others to come out of the ‘viral closet’ with the hashtag #LIVINGwithHIV, and to talk about how living with HIV has not held them back in the slightest.
Get advice on dealing with HIV stigma and plenty more information at gmfa.org.uk
Words Eleanor Wight