Questions one must never ask a HIV positive person on dating apps/on social media/in person or to anyone related to the said POZ person

Q1) Are you clean? (Or insinuating that you prefer clean guys only)

When you say such things to a POZ person you are shaming them and suggesting that he is dirty, you are further stigmatizing and perpetuating the stereotype that all HIV positive people are suffering due to their dirty ways (read promiscuous ways in an abstinent world)
A better way to ask someone their status would be by asking them when did they last get screened and asking them the results if they are comfortable sharing it. If they do not share it, don’t assume automatically they are positive, it’s just that someone’s status is not your business to know, you cannot put the responsibility of your sexual safety on others.

You cannot run away from HIV by segregating yourself from POZ people. In fact, you stand a higher chance of infection by sleeping with a person who doesn’t know their status or claims to be negative even though they haven’t been tested in a while

Q2) How did you get infected? How did you get to know?

One of the stupidest questions ever to be asked in my opinion! Asking questions about HIV and being curious about how I am handling day-to-day life with a chronic condition is one thing, but details of how I contracted it and when I got exposed is something that only my folks, doctors and other people who I think fit have the right to know. For the rest of you, it’s none of your business to know the nature of my condition. If it was that necessary, I would initiate the conversation myself. Until then, please go online and read the various ways one can contract HIV.

Q3) How did you get to know?

Through a blood test, that’s how most of us come to know! Though there are other ways where one can understand one is HIV positive, but getting tested is the only confirmatory way to find out for sure if one is HIV Positive.

Instead, ask them (If you are really that lazy to go online and check or skipped Biology classes in school or health education), whether there were any symptoms or a circumstance for him to take a blood test or what was his situation back then that led to a blood test and his finding out that he is POZ. If the person is comfortable and willing, he will tell you, don’t be taken aback or be bashful if you get a rude answer because such questions can elicit traumatizing memories in the person and he may react in a rude way to defend himself. Better yet – Google

Q4) Do you know who gave it you?

Chances are that asking this question can make the person very uncomfortable or make him relive a traumatic experience. Maybe he was assaulted, maybe he is embarrassed about it, maybe he is ashamed that he made some unwise choices in the spur of the moment and he is not comfortable sharing this information with you.

You may reason that if you come to know who the person is you can avoid them or it would be a social service if I reveal the person who infected me. Again, it’s none of your business knowing how we got infected or who infected us. There is a high probability that most of the POZ people don’t know who it was, so please don’t pester or shame or guilt us into revealing the name

Disclosing names of people who are HIV positive without their consent is a crime. No person shall be compelled to disclose his or others HIV status except with his/her informed consent, and if required by a court order.

Asking such a personal question can elicit painful emotions. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if I know who exposed me to HIV. It is not going to help me in my treatment and there is nothing I can do to reverse what happened. Or maybe we might feel that you are intruding on our privacy and we just ask you to shut the fuck up. So, stop asking us that!

Q5) I am sorry for you/What will you do now/Have you learnt your lesson?

Saying “I’m sorry” after hearing about someone’s HIV diagnosis might seem supportive, but to many of us, it’s not. Often, it implies that we have done something wrong, and the words are potentially shaming. After someone shares the personal details of their journey with HIV, it’s not helpful to hear the phrase “I’m sorry.” Instead, offer gratitude to the person for trusting you with that private health information and ask if you can help in any way.

You may have written with good intentions but it sends a message to us saying, I was interested in you at first but now that I have found you are POZ, I am no more interested in fucking you. I am so sorry for you – feeling of entitlement

We do not crave for your sympathies nor do we want your fake shoulder to cry on. Being HIV Positive is neither a death sentence nor are we someone who has to be quarantined or put under observation. We are as normal as anyone can be, we go to office we have a family who is accepting or have friends who support us. we don’t need your pity and we can see right through that plastic sense of concern

As regards to whether we have learnt our lesson, who the fuck do you think you are by being so condescending? Chances are that we acquired the infection by mistake, maybe we got it from birth or maybe we made some choices unwittingly and that one choice led us to get infected. Maybe the person who gave it to us knowingly infected us and we innocently placed our trust in him or the who guy who fucked us did not know himself that he is positive and was being very unsafe. So, if you ever ask such a thing and get a rude answer or no answer maybe it’s time you learnt a lesson

Q6) Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?

Again, it’s none of your business to know and the only reason I am telling you is because I felt you must know.

OR

I was not mentally/emotionally ready to come out as a POZ person to you until now.

OR

I was so scared of the stigma around that I, like other people, feared shame, rejection and isolation and you must appreciate me for having shared one of the most private informations about myself and having trusted you. When you ask why didn’t we tell you this earlier, ask yourself what things you have not disclosed to us yet. Everyone has the right to privacy and withholding information is not same as lying. If we are undetectable, it’s not really important to tell you about our status if it is only going to be a hookup.

Q7) I don’t want to risk having sex with you/ I understand you but I am scared/ I know you are undetectable but I am skeptical.

You’re taking a risk every time you have sex. It’s impossible to know the status of each person you slept with. It’s just as easy to type “neg” as it is to type “POZ” in your dating profile, so tossing someone aside because of their status doesn’t make sex risk-free. It’s a way to convince yourself you’re making a smart choice, when in reality you are making a blind one. Educate yourself on what your risks actually are; educate yourself about PReP and what it means to be undetectable.

Giving unsolicited advice about managing our condition, bombarding us with telephone numbers, FAQs and medicines, giving us nuskas and forcing us to suffer the lecture on why you think I must undergo XYZ treatment or some trial is uncalled for too.

We are all responsible people, if we have told you that we are undetectable, it automatically means that our viral load is suppressed and that we are on ARV and that we are managing our condition well. We really do not need moral policing or unsolicited advice (however good your intentions are).

We are well qualified and sensible enough to choose our treatment. We have our families, healthcare providers and counsellors to help us out in making our decision. Besides, you hardly know anything about us except the newly learnt HIV status. So thanks but no thanks.

Q8) Do you have AIDS?

Stop branding all of us who are HIV positive with the AIDS logo – there is extreme stigma attached to that word. HIV and AIDS are two different things and diagnosis.

A HIV positive person develops AIDS only when his immune system fails. With the advancement in medicines and other treatments, fewer people who are POZ develop AIDS and there are many reasons for it. By calling POZ people AIDS patients, you are showing how ignorant you are and it shows a lack of empathy towards all those people who have lost their lives to AIDS epidemic.

While the crisis of past decades should never be forgotten, we must all know the difference between HIV and AIDS.

Suraj Iyer

Suraj Iyer

Suraj Iyer is a 25 yrs old IT professional working with a law firm and pursuing his Bachelors inLaw degree. He lives in North Mumbai and is out and proud as a gay guy and recently came out as a person living with HIV. He was diagnosed as HIV+ in January 2017
Suraj Iyer

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