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Author Topic: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?  (Read 586 times)

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Online Jim Allen

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How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« on: August 19, 2019, 06:18:13 am »
Was reading the below opinion piece today, as it floated past one of my social media pages. It's slightly older from 2016 but thought i would share it as a thought.

I quoted one part of the publication and highlighted a few lines in bold. Now  although my story like everyone's is different, personally I did struggle at first with that internal self-judgment. I think my self-judgment was worsened at times by cultural opinions or actual stigma/discrimination experienced. 

It took me a while to realize the self-stigma was my own BS and I needed to change the channel, and that opinions formed culturally or otherwise are often like assholes everyone has one.  ;)

By Thomas Strong
How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?

Full publication
https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/how-can-there-be-such-thing-as-guilty-or-innocent-hiv-1.2887952?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

The beliefs that sadly make HIV shameful are the same that suggest sex itself is shameful

Quote
I contracted the virus through a sexual encounter with another man in 2006. I grew up in rural Nebraska and found community and self-expression in the gay community of San Francisco. I was happy finally to feel accepted somewhere and to have opportunities to explore sexuality.

For years, I hid my condition from everyone save my closest friends. I punished myself for making the “mistake” that resulted in infection. I had been an AIDS activist for years and fought against HIV stigma. Nevertheless, deep down I believed that my virus revealed my own weakness or deficient character.

Many of us with the virus struggle with these feelings. Researchers such as Patrick Murphy at Trinity College document that people living with HIV often internalise and reproduce the most punishing messages about the virus. Many people with HIV try to exclude themselves from the category of “guilty” victims by insisting that the circumstances of their infection were exceptional, that they are not like the “others” who contract the virus.

Why should we believe these things about ourselves? Perhaps because the culture tells us they are true. Last year, when Charlie Sheen publicly revealed his status, he attracted intense interest and commentary around the world. As a celebrity, he became a sensationalised symbol of what HIV “means” today: people with HIV are reckless. We are irresponsible and dangerous.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 06:31:35 am by Jim Allen »
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Offline MarkintheDark

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2019, 08:35:14 am »
Wonderful article, Jim and I like that the author is a cultural anthropologist.  The most important point I got was that sexual shaming is a form of often brutal social control.

Alan Turing, the Nazi code-breaker, was subject to chemical castration for being homosexual.  And the larger gay community as a whole continues to fight often violent pushback for who they are.  And for how many years were unmarried pregnant women mysteriously "sent away" to have their babies?  (I was one of those babies.)  Even today, in the States, a woman's right to choose continues to be challenged by religious zealots, most of them male.

It's not surprising, therefore, AIDS has often been framed as "God's punishment."  The question is whether or not one is gonna buy into that.
HIV dx - 02/93
AIDS dx - 07/01
Rilpivirine/Cabotegravir guinea pig since 01/17

Online Jim Allen

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2019, 08:50:39 am »
Wonderful article, Jim and I like that the author is a cultural anthropologist.  The most important point I got was that sexual shaming is a form of often brutal social control.

Alan Turing, the Nazi code-breaker, was subject to chemical castration for being homosexual.  And the larger gay community as a whole continues to fight often violent pushback for who they are.  And for how many years were unmarried pregnant women mysteriously "sent away" to have their babies?  (I was one of those babies.)  Even today, in the States, a woman's right to choose continues to be challenged by religious zealots, most of them male.

It's not surprising, therefore, AIDS has often been framed as "God's punishment."  The question is whether or not one is gonna buy into that.

Yeah. I don't know how it is for other nations but here at least the strong influence is the whole Catholic thing still felt today

Mother and baby homes, mass graves, ban on condoms during an epidemic, sex education dictated by the church
Our history is full of examples some of them still ongoing or felt today both directly or indirectly and even though it passed the recent abortion & gay marriage referendums showed the visible shaming propaganda, not just or mainly from men might I add.

It's the whole sex is bad, sex with a condom worse, gay sex is a ticket to hell.

Had my share of direct stigma thought, like most of us. Example when those nurses refused to take my blood not because I was living with HIV but because they thought it meant I was gay :o

« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 09:04:56 am by Jim Allen »
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Online Mindless

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2019, 11:17:15 am »
Thank Jim.

I punished myself for making the “mistake” that resulted in infection.”

This exactly something I’m really struggling with and reading articles/opinions like this helps me to reflect and get some perspective.
I’m still really in the middle of all this internal struggle and I hope to find peace with myself soon. This is, I guess, what’s called a form of “self stigma”: for the external stigma I can use the defense of privacy (not telling anyone, this is where I stand at the moment) but the internal one is way more subtle and difficult to face.

Hugs

Online Jim Allen

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2019, 02:32:28 am »
Thank Jim.

I punished myself for making the “mistake” that resulted in infection.”

This exactly something I’m really struggling with and reading articles/opinions like this helps me to reflect and get some perspective.
I’m still really in the middle of all this internal struggle and I hope to find peace with myself soon. This is, I guess, what’s called a form of “self stigma”: for the external stigma I can use the defense of privacy (not telling anyone, this is where I stand at the moment) but the internal one is way more subtle and difficult to face.

Hugs

Thanks for sharing.

The internal struggle as you put it can be the most challenging I believe and different for everyone, Just take the journey one step at a time and above all have patience with yourself.  ;)
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Online Mindless

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2019, 12:54:54 pm »
Thanks for sharing.

The internal struggle as you put it can be the most challenging I believe and different for everyone, Just take the journey one step at a time and above all have patience with yourself.  ;)

Thanks Jim, appreciated.

Online Jim Allen

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2019, 09:56:00 am »
Anytime.
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Online Mindless

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2019, 01:21:43 am »
Prompted by your last comment, I just gave the article a second read: this time I discovered there are some readers comments at the bottom... well, those reminded me why I decided not to tell anyone about my dx so far...  :-\

I think I got hiv cause my internal pain (lifelong struggle with depression and social anxiety) led me to seek in sex something I felt I missed. I may even got into compulsory behavior at some point and unfortunately loosened my level of protection occasionally, which is probably the way I got infected (I guess I will never know for sure)...

Should I feel guilty/ashamed for that? Should I think I’m a “looser” or that I have a “defective character”?

I think I was just trying to ease my internal pain and I may have chosen the wrong path... should I feel ashamed of myself for that? Not sure

M


Online Jim Allen

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2019, 02:10:19 am »
I think the 9 comments, 3 are from idiots. To be honest, anything published even related remotely related to sex or sexuality will attract a few particularly in Ireland. It's just one more reason to talk about sex, sexuality etc in mainstream media to educate & challenge those views.

Sorry to hear you are continuing to struggle, do seek out support as you are not alone. Not that it will help but I'll add feeling ashamed about being human, doing what is biologically driven and done by millions of people daily is not very logical. That said there are levels of shame about a number of topics, not just sex or HIV and feelings are not designed to be logical. Thankfully at least in this Nation, the general view on sex, sexuality and even HIV are changing slowly for the better.

Hugs to you and don't let the few keyboard bigots & general dimwits online get you down.

Jim
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Online Mindless

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2019, 11:42:48 am »
Thanks for your prompt answer Jim.

You’re a good and compassionate man. After a few years reading you I regard you as a friend, a brother. Even if we never met in person.

I still definitely feel guilt/ashamed at myself for getting hiv and how I got it.

I’m doing my best to stay healthy, physically and mentally. It’s a long, difficult path and I have moments when I feel very vulnerable.

This place is helping me a lot: reading others experiences and getting support is invaluable.

Hugs

Online Jim Allen

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Re: How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2019, 09:48:56 pm »
You're welcome and I'm glad to hear the forum is somewhat helping.

We all have moments that we feel vulnerable and, perhaps more frequently when facing change & challenges and that's perfectly okay. Just keep in mind you are not alone and to ask for help if you need it. Ultimately you are on a path and will get to where you are going.
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