BBC showed the first part in the new Stephen Fry documentary – HIV and Me tonight. Part of the first programme took Stephen Fry to the gay village in Manchester Whilst there he was shocked to hear one story about a 19 year old who had journey to Birmingham to be “pozzed up” by five HIV-Positive men. This is a phenomenon that I had assumed was relatively well known given the media coverage in recent months and years and given the extent that people seek out “barebacking” on gay dating sites like Gaydar. Essentially this involves an individual seeking to become HIV-Positive. During the programme I spoke to a gay friend who is the same age as me but who was utterly shocked by the documentary which reminded that my views and awareness is not necessarily representative or indicative. Nonetheless I was disappointed that the documentary did not seek to explore the reasons behind this behaviour further. It was as if to say well we can’t understand that so we won’t discuss it further. ironically, that’s precisely the kind of view that will allow this activity to flourish. This behaviour is also called “gift giving” but whilst the HIV is often seen as the “gift” (as indicated in this programme) the gift is the “freedom” achieved by a positive status. For those men who fear contracting HIV to an almost pathological extent, to become HIV-Positive can be on some level liberating. It is also on some level a psychological equivalence to impregnation. These issues could have been explored much more and contrasted with those who seek “barebacking” because they enjoy unprotected sex as opposed to those who seek deliberate infection.
I can’t find the British 80s ad but the controverial “Grim Reaper” ad from Australia first shown in 1987 gives a feel for the hard hitting style then adopted that proved so effective. The link to the Stephen Fry fronted project is: http://www.gijonny.co.uk/index.shtml