Mike Alvear, Why Are Some HIV-Negative Guys Writing About HIV When They Have No Clue?

Who are you to call me a victim? Ever hear of the Denver Principles? In the early 1980s, a group defining themselves as the People With AIDS Caucus rejected the word "victim," and HIV-positive people still do. I am not a victim, nor is my virus a burden to me any more than it is to you.
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Mike Alvear, your blog posts are infuriating to me for many reasons, primarily your ignorance. You don't have HIV, so from where do you speak? I am writing specifically about your post "Why Are Some HIV-Positive Gay Men Grateful for Their Disease?" So let me answer that questions for you, because HIV-positive people like me would rather not spend the rest of our lives in the punishing, stigmatized coffin you build us with every post.

You equate HIV to a car accident in your family. That accident caused a horrible death. HIV is not the same as a fatal car crash. How can you be foolish enough to compare those two? A tragic accident in your own family and my attitudes and choices about my virus are not the same. HIV is a preventable illness, not a death sentence. Using condoms, PrEP, getting tested, antiretroviral therapy -- these things save lives.

And here I quote you: "[Disease is] an injustice heaped on innocent victims."

Who are you to call me a victim? Ever hear of the Denver Principles? Read them and weep. In the early 1980s, a group defining themselves as the People With AIDS Caucus rejected the word "victim," and HIV-positive people still do. I am not a victim, nor is my virus a burden to me any more than it is to you. Now it empowers me to speak out against you.

You are grieving for a family member and comparing that to HIV, saying positive thinking is bullshit. Erroneously, you go on to say positive thinking is a reason people might go out and infect others. This is HIV stigma based on your own faulty assumptions, not science.

Here are your words: "Don't be grateful. Don't carry the burden of trying to make HIV your friend. Like all friends, it'll expect you to be loyal and introduce it to your other friends."

So if I choose a positive attitude, I will then become a gift giver, ready to pass along my virus to everyone? What a dirty lie. HIV is my journey, not yours, and I'll treat it any way I want, using everything available to keep me healthy and active. As a matter of fact, those who know their status and choose positive thinking don't go around saying, "Let's go raw!"

The majority of transmission occurs when people don't know their status and assume everyone is negative. So you're promoting a lie, that HIV-positive people who choose to improve their mental health will eventually share the load. You're stereotyping HIV-positive people and asserting that we shouldn't work toward treating our mental health, that instead we should feel shame and live in your angry cage.

I have heard many an addict, gay and straight, say to me that HIV is the best thing that ever happened to them, a gift. And you know what? They are right, not you. They have lived it, and they might be dead in the streets otherwise. You live in a gay man's plastic bubble. I've been blessed to spend many years with recovering addicts, prisoners and the homeless. Many of them said to me that HIV was a gift because it turned their lives around. And to put it in personal terms, I've been on death's door from drug addiction, incarcerated, homeless, and eating from a dumpster. Your post smells the same as that garbage can. The humility and humanity that HIV brought to my life is a gift. The people it brought into my world are a gift. Nobody signs up for it, but to say we should all just stop thinking positive is irresponsible and deadly.

It is generational, and you and a generation who think like you need an education. Your posts on HIV are a particularly egregious example of stigma. We deserve better than to be lumped together as victims, our status a burden, our positive approach to our own mind and bodies... well, that just leads to barebacking and "gift giving." You don't have HIV and never walked a day in my shoes or those of anyone else with HIV. That is as clear as a bell.

You are pathologically AIDS-phobic, and it was a very foolish choice to be writing about HIV, especially when you choose words like "victim" and "burden" and tell me how I should think or react to my status. It is irresponsible to write your HIV blogs. Your words are loaded with hate and stigma: Don't think positive. Be angry at yourself instead. You deserve that, HIV-positive people. That's been your message.

So all illness should be marginalized and not looked upon with grace? You have no idea what it is like to be HIV-positive, homeless, or lost in this world. And you are the worst HIV/AIDS writer I have ever read. And for the record, you wrote a similar piece last week about sero-sorting blow jobs. Sero-sorting is a values decision, and your values don't jibe with mine or follow any medical science; they follow your own illogical thinking. There are zero cases of anyone contracting HIV through oral sex with a man on ARVs, with a low viral load, who takes care of his body through a positive approach to his health care. Again, you list no science to back up your claims; it's just another essay filled with prejudice.

And what do you mean by this?

Here's what I say to all my HIV-positive friends: Don't be grateful. Don't carry the burden of trying to make HIV your friend. Like all friends, it'll expect you to be loyal and introduce it to your other friends.

This is gay-male homophobic panic-in-the-streets sensationalist nonsense. Your tone reminds me of those anti-gay videos that evangelical churches churned out in the early '90s: The Gay Agenda all those hate-mongering films. You can re-title your piece "The HIV Agenda" and then send it out as a fundraiser for the religious right.

Mike Alvear, you are dealing in deliberate distortions as a way of stigmatizing anyone with HIV. Yours is not a blog post about the politics of thinking about different responses to viral infection. It's a post blaming people for getting exposed to a virus. And it's about shaming them for wanting to live happy, healthy and full lives. You go for fear and hate mongering: HIV + gay men = a fatal crash. And the rest of us negative guys had better hope that we're not on the parkway when those HIV-positive people spin out. It's ethically irresponsible essay-writing, though to call it "essay-writing" is to glorify it well beyond its meager aesthetic range. Your post reaffirms the need for our community to educate not just ourselves but the larger culture about what it means to be HIV-positive, because discrimination against HIV-positive people is replacing homophobia as an acceptable form of social and legal hatred, and you are one of those many men behind the bullhorn of intolerance.

It also angers me that anyone would turn to a man who's not HIV-positive and seemingly anoint him an oracle of HIV. Why are HIV-positive people treated as if anyone could speak for us? Or about us? Whether you realize it or not, to treat HIV-positive people as a community of pariahs distorts the truth.

You also stigmatize people who find spirituality, or God, through illness. Meanwhile, someone who seroconverts becomes ridiculous and spiritual by default. You are grossly overreaching. You're ignorant to health science, positive mental health, and the effects of transmission, criminalization, all logic in regard to HIV.

And It's not as if you wrote a piece where you canvassed a range of people who are HIV-positive, of various genders, sexual identities, races, ethnicities, economic situations, and regions of the globe, and gave an overview of the different ways in which people adjust to having HIV. That would be a great post. And that, frankly, is the level of thoroughness and seriousness with which HIV needs to be discussed, and is, as far as I can tell, never discussed by you or anyone else.

Mike Alvear, you're the worst AIDS writer. You're full of stigma. Gratitude is not your game, nor is HIV. So I wish you would stop writing about HIV/AIDS, because you know nothing about it except how to exploit the fear of it, then promote HIV stigma for your own personal gain.

I call on every HIV-positive person who agrees with me to speak out against your bigoted and baseless writing. Until you learn the facts, you will always be a menace to HIV-positive people, especially to those who fought with their own lives, their bodies, to improve medical science and the lives of HIV-positive people everywhere.

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