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Things to perceive to erase the HIV stigma in the gay community.

Regrettably even after reaching the 21st century, we, humans still behave ignorantly in terms of accepting the epidemic, especially with endless assumptions, irrelevant perceptions and mindless myths by not initiating to comprehend the reality that specifies facts regarding the inside outs of HIV-AIDS. Bearing basic knowledge about symptoms, causes, precautions, preventions, curing processes and medications doesn't make you a person who can perceive everything about HIV until you know how to behave like a fellow supportive human to people who suffer from this immunodeficiency virus.

The world became progressive with its science and technology to improve the health and care system that regulates disease control in its population. When this epidemic entered the world, we lost many people as there was no proper cure and prevention but even though it is not completely curable, in this current generation, a HIV+ve person can contentedly live a healthy life with prevention that doesn't damage one's immune system further and the cure that almost repair the damage that has been done. Medical science has improved, but human emotions and behavioural patterns haven't improved to extend unconditional support for HIV+ people.

Yes, it is a sexually transmitted disease but sex isn't the sole reason for the transmission of this virus. Sad to relate, many people overlook this key point and they act weirdly around the suffering. HIV stigma left many demeaning and devaluing behavioural patterns in humans, especially in the gay community because of some baseless statistics and ancient surveys that mention male-to-male sex practices are the main causes of the transmission of HIV. It could be one of the reasons for sure in those days when people weren't aware of the virus but even today many people blindly follow the stigma instead of opening themselves up for educating and evolving their mindsets to erase the HIV stigma around the gay community in this world.

It isn't about the heteronormative society targeting and pointing at the gay community for HIV transmission. Unfortunately, HIV-negative people from the gay community are the leading reasons for spreading such stigma around HIV+ people. Even though gays contribute a single digited percentage of the world's population, the HIV stigma spread pretty deeply because it affects the mindsets of other people from other communities too. Hence, every gay person needs to know how to perceive things in and around HIV-AIDS properly to erase the stigma and to obtain strong support for HIV+ people without judgmental criticism.

Extending support doesn't mean showing unbearable sympathy. No one likes to get treated with extensive pity. Thanks to improved medicine, HIV is no more considered a terminal illness. When the world is cheerful to fulfil the wishes of a terminal cancer patient, then why can't the same world act supportive of an HIV-positive person? Why should your gay HIV+ friends be treated otherwise which portrays your abnormal behaviour? Try to bring out the normality by being normal to erase the HIV stigma.

Who said dating an HIV+ person is not healthy? If you are that gay person who thinks like that, then probably you must have thought that your orientation was a disease that could get treated with conversion therapy. Being healthy remains in the mindset, not in someone's sexual orientation, psychological stability and bodily disease. Dating isn't all about having penetrative sex without a condom because many things are involved to bloom a beautiful relationship with a person regardless of one's medical conditions. When there are many preventive measures like taking a regular dosage of Pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis, using condoms, cautious about drugs and blood transmission, why don't you think dating an HIV+ person is as regular as dating an HIV- person?

If you aren't aware of the facts, then you don't possess the right to spread rumours and be a bad influence by considering assumptive myths that pollute others' mindsets too. Preferably, you should educate yourself clearly to perceive how the world of an HIV+ person works. Do you know that a person who contains an undetectable viral load of HIV can't transmit the virus even through sex or needles or any kind of transmission? Do you know about an antiviral dosage called ART that can control the viral load within six months? So, do you think being in contact with an HIV+ person in any possible way could cause harm to you? But do you know what kind of emotional trauma you could impose on an already suffering person through your berating behaviour? HIV could get treated and controlled gradually to make a person enjoy a healthy and happy life but have you ever thought of the mental health issues any HIV+ person would go through because of judgmental fellow humans? Typically this is the harsh scenario in the gay community where gays who are HIV-negative pose serious mental health threats to HIV+ve gays.

Many statistics, surveys and studies show the significant percentages of mental health issues in the gay population of the world, especially the gays who not only suffer criticism for their sexual orientation by people outside of the community but also suffer emotional trauma for their HIV+ status by people from the gay community. This current generation of gays is barely aware of the earlier stories of gay men who struggled in every possible way with their identities, appearances, acceptance and the epidemic of HIV-AIDS but after all those years even when the circumstances have changed for the betterment of HIV+ people medically, many of them still suffer the suppressions of this stigma, especially by the ignorant ones who discriminate and differentiate.

Don't inquire about an HIV+ person about the cause of transmission and don't assume that every homosexual HIV+ man gets infected through unprotected sex practices.

Love has nothing to do with a person's HIV status as it is everything about feelings and emotions. If you can shower unconditional love then be with an HIV+ gay person as strong support instead of pretending to be caring by portraying your microaggressive behavioural patterns which discriminate against that person.

You can date an HIV+ homosexual and bisexual man without any doubt and if you are conscious of the transmission, then talk about it like a mature person regarding the medication and regular testing procedures but you must also follow preventive measures during sex as your contribution.

Talk about emotional needs and mental health issues. Try to engage with a person on a personal and psychological level if that person needs help.

An HIV+ person isn't immoral for being infected. So erase that stigma of treating that person as a victim or guilty. Don't think that you are doing some intense favour for being with an HIV+ gay man. That man needs support, friendship, acquaintance and allies, not a so-called health-privileged, narrow-minded, know-it-all, dramatic, fake-supportive person who partially and half-heartedly supports for the sake of show-off. Even though you make baby steps in extending your support and encouragement, do it whole-heartedly by being you without any extra add-ons.

Before anything else, bring out the normalcy by being normal instead of tagging every aspect with a person's HIV status. Normality is much needed to erase the stigma and maintain unity in the gay community without drawing a dividing line between HIV-positive gays and HIV-negative gays. If we don't support each other, how do you expect others from other communities to be with us, to support us and most importantly not judge us?

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