cow, Dan! What a mean response! I totally disagree that there
is a direct parallel between mugging old ladies and having
unsafe sex with an HIV diagnosis. The old ladies have no way
to protect themselves, whereas every single partner that sleeps
with an HIV-er has the choice to use a condom. I work at an
HIV service agency and we deal with the issue of disclosure
all the time—it’s one of the hardest things for sexually active
gay men, especially those that feel validated by sex, to handle.
Placing all the blame for the spread of HIV on the people
who are already infected is stupid—for many of them, it’s
incredibly psychologically damaging to live with both the
social pressure of being gay and being seen as a walking infection.
Should they expose other people to the virus? Of course not.
But it takes two to tango.
Plus, there’s a better way to reach positive people than forcing
them to pay “drug support payments.” We should educate them
so that they understand the risks they’re putting themselves
at, rather than scolding and punishing them for living with
a tragic disease.
the love of God, Doctor-Nitwit, go into some other line of
work! HIV service agencies are overrun with idiots who agree
with you, and you’re all making the AIDS epidemic incalculably
worse. When confronted with a man who’s running around indiscriminately
infecting other men with HIV, your first impulse is to start
spitting out excuses. We should have compassion! Disclosure
is difficult! Let’s educate the poor little darling—not about
his responsibility to his sex partners, heavens no! Let’s
educate him about the risks he’s putting himself at!
What about compassion for the men he’s infecting? What about
his responsibility not to spread HIV? As for education, if
this asshole is smart enough to use the Internet to line up
sex dates, he’s smart enough to know that it’s wrong to give
someone else HIV.
And you know what, Doctor Dipshit? I didn’t suggest that we
scold and punish people for living with a tragic disease.
I suggested that we scold and punish people who maliciously
and/or negligently infect other people with a tragic disease.
I have scores of friends with HIV who go to great lengths
to avoid infecting others and I certainly wasn’t scolding
them. They’re the good guys and I’m sick to fucking death
of “HIV educators” lumping my ethical HIV-positive friends
in with selfish, unethical, immoral HIV-positive shitbags
who could care less about infecting other people.
Yes, it takes two to tango. That’s why in my drug-support-payment
plan the malicious and/or negligent infector would only be
on the hook for 50 percent of the expense of the drugs that
the person he infected would need to stay alive. As for being
“mean,” my drug-support-payment plan is less mean than the
alternative suggested by numerous Savage Love readers: prison.
In most U.S. states and all of Canada, knowingly exposing
someone to HIV is a felony—just like mugging little old ladies.
someone who has worked in HIV/AIDS in NYC for almost 17 years,
I applaud your “drug-support payments” idea. Since the beginning
of HIV/AIDS I have always been amazed that the onus of prevention
was on the uninfected and not the person with HIV. For most
communicable diseases, the infected person is educated on
how to not spread disease. Someone with active tuberculosis
is expected to stay home, not go to work, and to wear a mask
to prevent others from being infected. So why is it so hard
to counsel someone with HIV to not spread a deadly virus?
Why is it such a taboo among so many gay activists groups
for the HIV-positive person to be a responsible human being?
If you print this, please do not use my name. I work for a
public health agency that would not be too happy with my opinions.
I was heartened by your letter, WUP, until I got to your P.S.
What does it tell us about HIV and public health agencies
that your opinions are so controversial that you can’t have
your name run with your letter? Nothing good.
reader, first-time writer. In regard to your “drug-support
payments” idea, why stop with just HIV? Why shouldn’t we do
the same for smokers? Their health problems are numerous.
And what about fat people? They regularly make themselves
more obese. Shouldn’t they have to pay for their diabetes
meds, heart-disease meds, heart operations, etc.?
has to stuff his own face to get fat and light his own smokes
to get lung cancer, which means every fat person and smoker
out there is solely responsible for his own health problems.
To get infected with HIV, however, someone has to infect you.
But I’ll take your bait: Yeah, I believe that people who smoke
or stuff themselves should pay higher health-insurance premiums
than people who don’t take those risks—and I said “higher,”
not crushing. The idea is to create a financial incentive
for people to make better choices. Likewise, I think people
who maliciously and/or negligently infect others with HIV
should be held responsible for their actions, and drug-support
payments would create a financial incentive to make better
a 52-year-old gay man—native San Franciscan—who lost count
of the friends I buried from AIDS. I worked at San Francisco
General Hospital and saw the horrors of ward 5A. I volunteered
at Project Open Hand to feed those infected. I’ve walked in
countless AIDS walks. How I escaped is beyond me, because
I was there in the thick of it. But not a day goes by that
I don’t remember one of those who died. We didn’t know what
caused AIDS then. We do now.
That this asshole is purposely infecting others for his own
physical pleasure is nothing short of criminal. It is premeditated
murder. Yeah, I’d drop his ass quick—and I’d tell everyone
I knew why. Hell, I’d probably tell total strangers. He would
NOT be a friend. Sorry, but my friends care for other people.
And ya know what else? I don’t want to pay for his fucking
medication. Nor do I want to pay for the medications of his
barebacking asshole partners.
Once upon a time we opened our hearts and our wallets to those
infected. We demanded that the government step in and help.
I really hate to say that I don’t care, but I don’t. Go ahead
difficult for me to read about people like Help Me Do The
Right Thing’s friend. At 32, I contracted HIV from a guy I’d
been seeing who lied to me about his status. I’ve accepted
my part of the blame. But I also know that in the State of
California knowingly transmitting the virus is a felony. I’m
not sure if prosecuting this guy is what I want, or if it
will make any difference, but I do agree with the idea that
he should pay for the obscenely expensive meds I now have
to take for the remainder of my life.
for sharing, Tim D. and Todd. We’ll have more on this subject
next week—including whether or not it would be possible to
establish an HIV “paternity”—but in an online special only,
not in the print version of Savage Love.