I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for over a week now, ever since I read an article about January 20th being ‘Blue Monday’. I think I missed the initial impact as I was riding high on my latest results, but as soon as that joy faded I seemed to psychosomatically give myself the January blues.
I’ve felt so tired, had little motivation and felt much fed up. But tonight before heading to the gym after work the sun was shining (a rare occurrence at the moment in Manchester and Salford) and it just made me smile, as corny as that sounds. I think the grey miserable month we’ve just had didn’t do any wonders for my mental state of mind.
The slump has been annoying as there have been a lot of items in the news that I’d have liked to have blogged about, most notably that peers in the House of Lords rejected compulsory sex education. This isn’t just a missed opportunity for HIV awareness and education, it impacts empowering our younger generation about all aspects of sexual relationships (both gay and straight), domestic and sexual violence and consent.
I did manage to get enough energy in the last week to make people aware of a vile new website that is publically outing people it initially deemed as “cheats and pozzers”, although they have now denied this and are stating it’s just “cheats and skanks”. I don’t want to give the website anymore publicity but if they truly want to help in the fight against the spread of STIs then they should volunteer with their local sexual health charity instead of targeting people it has coerced into conversations regarding bare-backing, unprotected sex and their personal sexual health testing history.
Even if they believe they’re doing society and honourable service they are undoubtedly fuelling more stigma and hatred towards the HIV community, and we have plenty of it to deal with already.
What these people, and sadly most, don’t realise is that the majority of new HIV infections occur because of unprotected sex between two people that don’t know their status. They both assume they are fine, because why would HIV happen to them, and they’ve been ok in the past. Sexual health is the responsibility of the individual, and if you choose to have bare-back sex then you’re choosing to increase the risk that you catch STIs.
Protected sex is the biggest force we currently have at reducing the numbers of people living with HIV. This does not mean that people who choose to have unprotected sex are skanks, it means they need to take extra care, and that they should test every three months instead of six.
It does not mean they should be persecuted by sexual health vigilantes who hide behind the internet.
Just writing this has geared me up again already and reminded me why I believe it is so important for there to be outspoken, impassioned role models in the HIV community. I’ve been feeling down in the dumps but now I’m getting back to my usual vocal self.