HIV stigma is summed up in one cruel Grindr message

HIV stigma is summed up in one cruel Grindr message

A HIV positive user of dating app Grindr has shared the message he received recently from another user rejecting him because of his status.

Bang Bang Ladesh shared a screenshot of the message with his Facebook followers, where it has been shared dozens of times and prompted many comments.

In the exchange, the man sends a photo of himself to Ladesh. He follows it up with a simple ‘Hi’. However, he then read Bang Bang’s Grindr profile, which mentions that he is HIV positive. So he sends a second message: ‘You’re poz? Sorry I take my Hi back.’

Speaking to GSN, Bang Bang Ladesh said, “It’s not common to get those messages but it does happen. I normally enter in to dialogue with them.”

However, on this occasion, Ladesh found himself blocked.

And so, he shared a screenshot of the exchange on Facebook.

Bang Bang Ladesh reportedly says he was diagnosed with HIV seven years ago. He is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load.

“I would never speak to someone like that,” he said. “Why would you? Maybe he got me at the wrong moment, but he blocked me and I can’t answer back, so I decided to screen shot it and just put it out there. If I could get one person to see that that’s not acceptable behavior, then good.”

He admits that he was at first upset by the message.

“I did have a cry. I don’t constantly have the energy to stand up and fight. Sometimes you’re home alone with your cats with some cold pizza and then you get a message like that.”

However, his upset turned to determination. It reaffirmed for him the importance of talking about HIV and educating others.

“Don’t be afraid of revealing your status,” is his advice to others. “Stand up to the bullies. We stand up to racism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia – we must fight against HIV stigma and ignorance. Get out there and say you’re HIV positive. It’s not a big deal and I’m going to stop other people making it a big deal.”

Matthew Hodson, the chief executive of NAM, a leading HIV/AIDS organization in the United Kingdom, says such stigma is cruel and unacceptable.

“Someone who knows their HIV status is likely to be on treatment and, if they’re undetectable, they can’t pass the virus on sexually. You’re much less likely to get HIV from someone who has been tested and felt able to tell you their status than from someone who is HIV positive but doesn’t know it.

“The stigma that people who disclose their HIV status encounter does nothing to encourage honest conversations about HIV within our communities. It also does nothing to encourage gay men to test.

“Rejecting someone on the basis of their HIV status isn’t just cruel and divisive, it’s a bad safer-sex strategy. It’s time that we reject this unacceptable caste system within our communities. It’s time to say, ‘Enough.’”

Ian Howley, Chief Executive of HERO, said such HIV stigma remains common.

“In 2016, GMFA surveyed 750 gay and bisexual men living with HIV about the stigma they face. 74% said they’ve faced sexual rejection for disclosing their HIV status. 84% of these men said they received stigma on sex and dating apps. So it’s not surprising to me that this is still happening.

“There are many reasons why people respond to people living with HIV like this: fear, lack of education and some are just pure horrible people who like to feel powerful. There’s not a lot we can do to stop the last ones but we can all do our bit to end the lack of education that surrounds HIV.”

He also talks of the importance of empowering HIV positive men to overcome the stigma they face.

“There is little we can do to control people being horrible but we can help and support people living with HIV to get to a place where these types of messages do not impact their self-esteem and self-worth. Knowing that these messages you receive is not really about you but about the insecurities of the person who sends them will help you overcome these messages.”

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3 Comments

  1. Mandy
    April 04, 06:45 Reply

    This guy is just a petty piece of shit. How about you quietly discriminate. Which one is “I take my Hi back”? We are such deliberately wicked human beings in this world.

  2. Kenny
    April 04, 09:08 Reply

    Ignorance…. And such a person might still end up having bareback sex with somone who doesn’t know his status or who didn’t indicate that he’s positive.

    Also, how do people message others without going through their profiles? 😏 😏

  3. paradox
    April 05, 21:30 Reply

    Not much grindr will do about it really, seeing as the app developers are HIV-phobic pieces of crap. Who cud av known they were giving out HIV status info? Trying to be honest is such a pain in the butts

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