The LGBT Left Will Cause the Next HIV/AIDS Crisis
The Left believes you should not be legally required to disclose your HIV status to a new partner. They have been strangely fixated on this topic, folding it into the majority of LGBT advocacy goals. ThinkProgress Editor Zack Ford has made it one of his defining missions, writing multiple advocacy articles and even a video shown below. The Human Rights Campaign has been on the forefront of lobbying political leaders in this same direction.
As usual they have manipulated the scenario into a victim story of homophobic bigotry unfairly targeting HIV+ gay men. They prefer to describe laws that require a person to disclose their HIV status as ‘criminalizing HIV.’ As Senator Scott Weiner stated regarding the passage of a California bill removing felony status for intentionally infecting another with HIV: “Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,”
Zack Ford, as previously mentioned, has been a strong advocate on the nuances related to ‘criminalizing HIV.’ In a 2016 article titled: Study: Laws Making HIV-Positive People Tell Their Sex Partners Don’t Actually Accomplish Anything Zack argues, “Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that for men who have sex with men (MSM), the existence of a law did not change how much condomless anal sex they were having. In fact, the men who believed that their state actually had one of these laws were slightly morelikely to engage in this risky behavior than others.”
“Two previous studies found that these laws can actually discourage some individuals from getting tested for HIV or talking to their health care providers about their sexual practices, perhaps because they prefer not knowing their status over being liable under the law. Those same individuals similarly reported higher rates of condomless anal sex, as well as a higher number of partners.”
But even when faced with real-life situations in which HIV+ people intentionally lie about their status and expose or infect others they hold tight to their narrative. The story of Michael Johnson, for example, only served to fuel their argument. In 2015 Johnson was convicted of infecting one man and exposing four others. He lied about his status online and intentionally exposed all five men. The Human Rights Campaign spun the story as one of racial oppression and homophobia:
“Medical experts and advocates denounced Johnson’s conviction, attributing it to a trial that was full of misinformation about HIV transmission and inaccurate stereotypes about men who have sex with men, as well as a justice system that tries, convicts, and sentences Black men at disproportionately higher rates than any other group. The all-white jury in Johnson’s case spent only a few hours deliberating before reaching their decision.”
The young man intentionally exposed five other men to HIV, infecting one of them. This was not a case where someone spit at a police officer and was accused of attempted murder. This is the nightmare scenario of HIV where positive men target other men for infection and the victims have no legal recourse.
Just this week a story out of Scotland reported on a gay man, Daryll Rowe, who infected four men intentionally. He lured his victims on Grindr, repeatedly lied about his status and even went so far as to tamper with condoms to make them ineffective. He would then chat with his victims afterwards and jokingly tell them he had HIV and they were likely infected.
I was personally infected in much the same way by meeting a man online who sexually assaulted me and intentionally exposed me to the virus.
The narrative the Left tells about this falls into a few categories and I will address each one.
“Undetectable is Untransmittable”
Advances in HIV treatment have made it far more difficult to transmit the virus. Medications suppress the virus to the point it can no longer be measured in the blood and as long as this state is maintained, undetectable, it is highly unlikely a person will transmit the virus. This is excellent news for mixed-status couples in monogamous relationships. This is also the foundation of the scientific or medical reasoning behind the ‘outdated’ nature of HIV laws.
In an effort to celebrate this new era of medical treatment and to reduce the ‘stigma’ associated with HIV, HIV organizations have begun chanting the phrase ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable.’ They believe that championing this slogan will somehow relieve unfounded fears in the gay community and elsewhere about the dangers of HIV transmission. But as I described in depth in an article titled, My Virus: Why HIV Disclosure Matters, the medical argument is not as waterproof as they present.
The CDC reports gay and bisexual men make up 83% of new HIV infections per year. Nearly 1 in 7 gay/bi men with HIV don’t know they have it. 58% of HIV+ gay/bi men were currently viral suppressed. What this tells me is a large population of gay men are still being exposed and infected despite the advances in HIV medications. This can be attributed to the fact that 42% of the infected population are not taking medical treatment.
As I stated in this more detailed article: “As described by AIDSmap, there are legitimate reasons why, even on medication, a person’s viral load can increase. Other factors can come into play, for example if you begin taking the popular over-the-counter herbal remedy for depression St. John’s Wart, the interaction with your HIV medication could cause it to be ineffective. I began taking a calcium supplement before bed each night and discovered at my next testing that my viral load increased due to the calcium binding to my HIV medication and diluting its effectiveness.
We tend to have our viral loads checked every three to six months and we only get a snapshot of our viral load on the day we tested. It is simply impossible to know if you are currently undetectable.”
PrEP is the HIV medication Truvada often used to treat new HIV infections. It was discovered to have an immunizing effect on HIV- people who take it. This is an additional step an HIV- partner can take with their HIV+ partner. However, as Ford himself pointed out in a series of tweets, the gay male community has taken PrEP to mean ‘vaccine’ and has begun engaging in far more unprotected sex. Ford lamented that guys on PrEP want to have ‘bareback’ sex with him to which he respects as an ‘HIV prevention choice’ but is personally uncomfortable with.
Most HIV organizations will argue that HIV disclosure laws are ineffective at preventing negative behaviors and also instill fear in those who may suspect they have been exposed.
The argument of effectiveness is a strange one to me. We do not repeal murder laws when the murder rate drops. But more importantly HIV disclosure is an issue of consent. The fact that HIV+ gay men are exposing people to HIV in spite of serious felony charges associated tells me the HIV and gay communities have failed at socially stigmatizing transmission. We should see only accidental transmissions, not reckless or malicious behaviors.
I believe it has been the never-ending obsession with ‘stigma’ around being HIV+ that has driven this mindset. People feel entitled to privacy regarding their status and the LGBT community has placed the burden on the HIV- partner to protect themselves rather than make anyone feel uncomfortable. As far back as the 1990’s, the film Jeffrey, starring Patrick Stewart and Steven Webber, featured gay men afraid of sleeping with HIV+ men as a social injustice needing resolved.
As is common in progressive attempts to advocate for legitimate victims, they go too far and become too obsessed. They have moved from fighting a generalized fear of HIV+ gay men (or gay men at all) using silverware or bathrooms to shaming the fear of having unprotected sex with an HIV+ man.
The secondary issue of refusing treatment for fear of legal repercussions is apocryphal at best. The LGBT Left seems to genuinely believe the medical world is hostile toward them for some reason and they perpetuate the idea that individuals will be treated badly if discovered to be HIV+. The logic being, if you have unprotected sex and then get tested you may find you are positive and encouraged to inform your recent partners. Any of those partners could report you to the police where you would be prosecuted.
This is simply untrue. Just as hospitals do not report to the police those who have overdosed in their ERs, the federal regulations surrounding HIV privacy are enormous. Although a partner could report you, if you were unaware of your status you cannot be held liable for exposure. These laws are not designed to target HIV infection. They are designed and used solely for prosecuting individuals maliciously infecting others.
Treating it like other infectious diseases
“…Kate Boulton, staff attorney at the New York-based Center for HIV Law and Policy. “Modernizing these laws means moving away from singling out HIV… and making it more comparable to how other diseases of this nature are treated,”
The above quote from an article titled, Should HIV-positive people still face felonies for not telling partners?, demonstrates the progressive mindset. It argues that 95% of those charged under HIV disclosure laws tend to be associated with prostitution. It also repeats the ‘outdated’ concept and the idea that ‘people can be charged without infecting anyone.’ This last concept is often used to convince of a victim standard. A person who is HIV+ has sex, doesn’t tell his partner, his partner finds out but is not infected — where is the harm?
The idea here is HIV must be treated like all other diseases like other STDs or the Flu and to ‘criminalize’ it is to suggest it is uniquely harmful. New medications make HIV practically dormant and therefore there is no social harm involved if people have sex where they will never pose a threat anyway. But as I have stated above, this assumes a responsible individual taking proper medical care of himself and remaining healthy. A responsible person is not going to expose someone to a deadly virus, even accidentally.
HIV is not like other infectious diseases. It is currently incurable and it requires daily medication to suppress. If you take a medication, stop for any reason and then return to it, it may no longer be effective. Worse, the virus can mutate a defense to it and if spread to a new host will not respond to that same medication. The medications themselves are extraordinarily expensive, $2,000+ a month, and much of it falls to the taxpayer. We are seeing an incredibly high new infectious rate yearly in the same population with 40%+ choosing not to take medications at all.
I have argued that if every HIV+ gay man alone, even 80% of us, took our medications properly, informed our partners and made responsible sexual choices while vowing to never allow our own virus to escape into the world, HIV would be eliminated. We are the primary cause of HIV in the country and we could stop it.
Sadly the LGBT media is more focused on genuinely outdated ideas of ‘stigma’ and social injustice than on eliminating HIV. Rational public policy would be to strongly advocate for disclosing your status regardless of being undetectable and shaming any man who doesn’t. They would fully stand behind laws that placed a heavy criminal sanction on infecting others, especially intentionally. They would use resources to make medications more widespread.
Updating HIV Disclosure law from the 1980’s does not mean tossing them out altogether.
But just as with drug abuse, exploitation of teenagers in sex work, or extreme party culture, the LGBT Left is more worried about hurt feelings and judgement than they are solutions.
I believe that we will see a continued high level of HIV infections and as more and more gay men feel entitled to keeping their status private, far more devastated lives. The virus is capable of incredible mutation in very short periods of time. Gay men become untreatable when they have gone through all the available medication types, have multiple strains of HIV in their system (double-infected) and/or abuse drugs to the point their immune systems fail. If they infect another, that person will be just as non-responsive to medical treatment.
In their pursuit of a perfect society free of judgement, stigma, injustice or malice they are creating a scenario where a medical epidemic in this community once nearly eradicated will be reborn as a new and far more terrifying crisis. All in the name of progress.