Three quarters of HIV-positive gay men have been rejected by sex partners over their status.
The report from FS magazine, which examines the stigma faced by gay and bisexual men living with HIV, found 73% have been rejected despite 96% of them being HIV-undetectable.
Many said they feel like they see the most stigma on dating apps, but also in clubs and even in the work place.
Surveying 750 gay and bi men living with HIV, they found:
97% of Gay and bisexual men living with HIV believe there is still a degree of stigma associated with being HIV-positive.
Gay and bisexual men living with HIV receive/see the most stigma on dating apps such as Grindr (84%)
Since our first HIV stigma survey in 2014, we’ve seen an increase of stigma on social media with an 8% increase at 22%
17.3% said they face stigma in the work place
About 20% face stigma in bars/clubs.
Stigma has made 83% reluctant to disclose their status – up from 75% in 2014
74% have received sexual rejection despite 96% of them being HIV-undetectable – meaning they can’t pass on the virus
60% say their life has improved since they became positive – up from 56% in 2014
62% believe living with HIV makes it difficult to be in a relationship – down from 64% in 2014
Some of the responses some men have received on dating apps range from understanding if ignorant to offensive and rude.
‘”Thanks for telling me but it’s not for me.” “Appreciate your honesty but I can’t take the risk.” “I fancy you but I can’t know have sex with you know I know what I know.” “Don’t message me again or I will block you.” “Fuck off you cumdump scumbag,” These are just a few of the reactions I have had to deal with after disclosing my status,’ Brett from Belfast said.
Dale from London said: ‘One time I went on a date and decided to be upfront about my status. His reply was “I’d kill myself if I had that”.’
Ian Howley, Interim CEO of gay mens’ health charity GMFA, said: ‘Overall we can see that there is an increase of stigma towards gay and bisexual men living with HIV, especially on dating apps and on social media. This might be down to more men being open about their status and more education about HIV and viral load is needed to reflect this.
‘Stigmatising people with HIV does not just impact those living with HIV. It discourages men from testing and accessing treatment that can save their lives and make them less likely to transmit the virus to their sexual partners.
‘It also stops people from openly talking about HIV and safer sex. And it causes so much ignorance and fear that some people avoid sex altogether. This is not healthy. This is why it’s so important that we do our best to stop HIV stigma.’
But despite this 60% of gay and bisexual men living with HIV said their life has improved since they became positive.