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Positive and Undetectable

September 18, 2014

Positive and Undetectable

Since when does being clean have anything to do with serostatus? Recently, I was at Sunday brunch with friends. The euphoria created by our many mimosas was unceremoniously interrupted by a newcomer. Our new friend pulled up an Adam4Adam profile he just "stumbled upon." He proceeded to put it on full blast. With a tone of incredulous disbelief he said, "check this shit out!" and began reciting the following words from his iPhone, as if talking into a microphone:

"Healthy, undetectable. If you think that NOT having sex with a healthy poz guy will keep u neg if u bareback, think again. You don't become poz from playing with a healthy poz guy who's on meds/undetect. Playing with a healthy poz guy should be the least of ur worries; it's the supposed "neg" guys who lie or don't know their own status you should be worried about. "Clean" defines hygiene, not serostatus. Get the facts and be mindful of your words. The only thing you'll get from a healthy poz guy is one hell of an orgasm!"

When he lifted his eyes the silence was deafening around the table. I knew I was probably not the only positive guy at the table. But surely I am the only one whose face is plastered on bus shelters, subways ads, and magazines. I am an openly HIV-positive spokesperson in the "HIV STOPS WITH ME" campaign. Who would speak first? Was everyone waiting on me?

In a stifling instant I realized that this profile dared to "turn the tables." With a mouth full of food, I shared that positives have long been concerned about checking the positive box on sites like this-- what if that turns people away? Maybe it was this profile's audacity or self-esteem that surprised us all. Did we expect him to be shy about being positive? Does anyone ever talk about being 'undetectable'? Another friend asked if people know what being 'undetectable' means. One thing for sure, this headless torso pic took away any refuge of ignorance.

As I chatted back and forth, I wondered if "positive" isn't enough. Should undetectable be the new conversation?

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This article was provided by TheBody.

See Also
Fact Sheet: HIV/AIDS and Young Men Who Have Sex With Men
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More Personal Views on HIV Prevention for Gay Men


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Tree House Talk (All Strength No Shade)

Tree Alexander

Tree Alexander

Tree Alexander, born in Chicago, Illinois, now living in Brooklyn, New York. HIV-positive AIDS activist and Case Worker. "I am the change I wish to see." Motivational speaker and youth advocate. Tree's target is to empower the youth and reduce stigma. Tree found out his HIV status one month after he turned 20 and HIV has changed his life completely. Tree travels and tell his story, letting people know that if we continue to conceal and fear this disease, we shall never overcome.

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