Talking Positive about HIV: David’s story

Publish Date: 27/11/2013

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (The LGF) spoke to David about living as a HIV positive man, how it affects him personally and the importance of raising HIV awareness.

David, 28, works in healthcare and is well-informed about the importance of HIV awareness, but as a HIV positive man, being able to talk about how it affects him personally is just as important.

David, from Brighton, is in his second year on the NUS (National Union of Students) LGBT committee and he is open about his own HIV status - showing students that they don’t have to worry about their status while they are a student.

A couple of months after he was diagnosed as HIV positive, David came to the realisation that he shouldn’t be ashamed of his status and was inspired to be open and honest about his experience.

He explained: “One of my closest friends who was HIV positive revealed his status publically on the internet and this encouraged me to do the same. I’ve always been active in standing up for people, especially the LGBT community so it just made sense.”

David has been raising funds and actively campaigning to raise awareness of HIV with all communities in Brighton. He added: “One organisation in Brighton tried to show House of Numbers - a HIV denying film - so we organised a campaign and with student pressure we managed to get it cancelled, which I think is amazing.”

So how does he think HIV positive gay/bisexual men can help to inform negative guys?

“One of the first things we can do is to be on dating sites as it’s about being open about our status and on our profile. There should be more blogs about taking a test and to show how simple it is to walk out with a result.

“On the scene, it’s important that gay/bisexual men get involved in charities, such as helping running clinics, condom packing or even out talking to other guys in the community about wearing condoms!”

David has found that some gay men can be unwilling to discuss the subject of HIV or safer sex...

“Sometimes people say 'oh I don’t use condoms... I bareback' and there’s some ignorance about it. In my experience, I told a guy who I went on a date with that I’m HIV positive and this empowered him to be open about his status too.”

And what is it that people want to discuss?

“The fear of being stigmatised is what people want to talk about. I’ve heard 'you only lose ten years of your life, what’s the point?' But when people know about me being open about my status, they want to know when I got diagnosed and how. There isn’t a good way or a bad way to get HIV. It’s not as simple as saying it’s the fault of guys who shag about, but if you get HIV from a blood transfusion then it’s ok. Shaming people about how they acquired the virus isn’t helpful.”

What does he think of current sexual health campaigns and what more could be done?

“I like It Starts With Me. They have lots of faces for a lot of different people to relate to although there are a lot of gay men. I’ve not seen a lot of stuff about women with HIV - there needs to be more!

“One thing we can all do is to keep wearing condoms and raise awareness. Schools  need to talk more about sexual health and we need to keep reminding people that it’s not an embarrassing thing to go to a sexual health clinic!”

David is one of the HIV positive men who will be attending our ‘Talk Positive’ event on Sunday 1 December. You can read more about the event here:

http://www.lgf.org.uk/news-articles/let-s-talk-positive-for-world-aids-day-2013/