Tuesday, November 18, 2014

HIV Disclosure Laws, Antiquated and Dangerous

Why do HIV infection rates among some populations still continue to rise?

It's so much more complicated than just a simple lack of education and social traditions. Humans have a natural resistance to being told what to do and how to do it, especially through guilt and shame mechanisms.

There are neurotransmitters involved, like adrenaline, serotonin, linked into mirror neurons, emotions and learned behaviors, reactive behaviors and suppressed behaviors.

Telling someone to be rational about something like sex is like talking to a pack of chimpanzees to organize a tea party with proper etiquette for the Queen of England.

Engaging, dialoguing on a long-term basis and using harm-reduction strategies, techniques and not going for the hail mary or holy grail of prevention. Let's reduce our risk. That's a reasonable goal and a reasonable place to start.

Also, there is still such a stigma to those infected with HIV.

This, compounded with HIV disclosure laws, one of the worst public health decisions during the AIDS epidemic, is propelling infections forward.

These inane disclosure laws increase the unwillingness of those most at risk for having the virus to go untested in order to not have to disclose their status.

Instead, they go untreated for HIV for over a decade sometimes, ending up in the hospital with multiple Opportunistic Infections. By then, their bodies and their immune systems are destroyed, and they've likely infected many others along the way. Then, they die.

These disclosure laws need to be tossed out, not because disclosing your HIV status is a mistake, but because it places all the impetus on the shoulders of the HIV-positive population, not on the population that needs to remain HIV-negative.

Until the HIV-negative population takes ownership over their status, they will continue to become infected and continue to spread the stigma of HIV through their continued, willful ignorance of the disease.

In my multiple decade history in the gay community, I have never once been asked what my HIV-status is. Not even once. Not even once.


  1. Disclosure laws do nothing to hinder hiv transmission. They further stigmatize people living with hiv and in that sense may actually abet hiv transmission. People living with hiv are beautiful people!

  2. Agreed, Kevin! Terrible to see friends die from not ever getting tested.