I get a bit frustrated when I’m scrolling through the news and I see yet another story about an innocent police officer who got spat at and could’ve caught HIV from the crazy HIV positive person. The most recent one that caught my eye was of a woman in Essex being jailed for spitting into a police officer’s mouth. She was HIV positive and said that she hoped that he got it too.
There are a few issues I would like to raise here. Firstly you cannot contract HIV from spitting. The person writing the article knew that, they quote the chief executive of National AIDS Trust saying that you can’t. So I’m wondering, if they knew that to be the case then why is it in the headline? Why even mention it in the first place? Why is it at all relevant to the story? It’s purely there to sensationalise the story, to hook people in. But the outcome of this is that the majority of readers will not take away that you cannot catch HIV from spitting (most will only read the headline) but the more traumatic view of people who are living with HIV are actually unhinged, vindictive and out to infect people they dislike.
If the police knew that you cannot catch HIV from spitting then why did the officer need to take PEP? I suppose it seems that it doesn’t do much harm to be cautious and if that’s what the officer wanted then fine, however it does do harm to report it. The treatment was unnecessary because…..and say it with me now….you cannot catch HIV from spitting!
Why is the focus of the article on the HIV when what really happened is that a woman assaulted a police officer. She not only spat at him but attacked him and other officers, damaged his car and a fence. She was also on a suspended sentence of other assaults and shoplifting. It just re-enforces the stigma surrounding HIV that’s been left over from the gravestone campaign in the 80’s and 90’s.
Now that U=U has been officially recognised by the CDC and the NHS and with PrEP and PEP on the market why can there not be another media campaign? Explaining that if someone is undetectable that they cannot sexually transmit the virus. Also by taking PrEP you can protect yourself against contracting HIV and that if you do come into contact with HIV that you can go to your clinic and be assessed for PEP. The other night I saw an advert advising people about chlamydia, endorsed by durex. If the media is talking about other STD’s then why not the reality of HIV? It’s like they want to keep the negative stereotype in order to keep demonising HIV positive people and sensationalising stories.
This is particularly raw with me today because I experienced my first HIV related rejection by someone, I had hoped that telling him would be a cementing of our friendship or our possible future relationship. However he had zero up to date knowledge of HIV, no idea what undetectability is or that by being undetectable you cannot transmit the virus.
Once I told him he went into panic mode. He told me I should’ve told him before hand, that I’d taken his right to choose away from him and that I’d lied because I’d said I was “clean”. I really really hate that expression, having HIV doesn’t make me dirty, and anyway I knew I was not putting him at any risk and I’m tested for other STD’s far more regularly than the average person so as he likes to put it I’m probably “cleaner” than most.
He said he needed to go and get tested now and pretty much refused to listen to anything I had to say. I was hurt, but I remained calm. I didn’t cry or get too upset. I did get a massive knot in my stomach which so far hasn’t gone. I just feel very unsettled.
He said if I’d told him before then it wouldn’t have mattered. I said if that was actually true, then it wouldn’t matter now.
I understand that people might be shocked, if they know nothing about HIV other than myths, rumours, and what’s put out there by the press, then they will be scared and filled with fear. Earlier on in the evening he said how much he trusted me, but showed no trust in me when it mattered the most. His refusal to try to understand hurt me and even if he did say he wanted to see me after the shock has worn off, I don’t know if I’d be able to because he said he trusted me and then took it away with the space of 2 hours.
These idiotic stories like the one I mentioned earlier do so much damage to the public’s opinion of ordinary people living with HIV it makes me so angry. It makes me want to broadcast myself even more about what it’s like living in 2018 with HIV. It makes me want to put it on my hook up site and on my tinder profile…….but fear still stops me. The backlash I may receive from people I’ve already slept with who don’t know scares me, even though I know I did nothing wrong and was putting no one at risk of infection, if someone decides to be mean, I don’t know if I can take it.
I’m going to have to be strong enough pretty soon though. I’ve been asked to be part of a press release about women living with HIV. This will have my face and my name with my HIV story next to it in public for anyone to view. If anyone I know reads it I hope that they will take the time to actually read and understand the words and the knowledge and evidence behind them rather than jumping to out-dated conclusions and judgements.
Are there any myths about HIV that you are unsure about? Ask me.
~If you have any questions about this post or any post I’ve written please don’t hesitate to comment and ask.