A-News / Conferences

HIV Stigma Among Youth


The offensive thing about this meme is that it’s wrong. Don’t make me go into google search for HIV memes again because they’re all terrible and disgusting.

Continuing on from the conference held by the Centre for Social Research, there had been studies on youth culture and on young gay men and on the stigma that still surrounded HIV. The truth is, that even with a HIV positive status, you can still carry on a rather fulfilling life – it just becomes a little more complicated is all.

HIV seems to be this black hole of ever pervasive stigma and discrimination. If you have it – you’ve been going around, if you don’t test – you’re just irresponsible, if you’re not on some sort of treatment – you’re irresponsible, if you’re straight and positive – then you’re a closet gay. There seems to be a lot of fear involved and evidence suggests that there hasn’t been anything sufficient to stop that wheel turning.

As was recently published by SMH, and from the After Hours Session of the conference, a percentage of young gay men have poor knowledge of treatment options and low test rates. There is also low exposure to public campaigns.

From her studies of queer music scenes, Dr Jodie Taylor highlighted how current youth might benefit from having an intermediary space. In the DIY dance parties, guests held safe practices for recreational drug use and sex. A festival or event that could allow a knowledge exchange from mentors of sorts to provide self care strategies could educate youth on the reality of house parties as a safe space rather than a wild mess that fosters risk behaviour. If such a space could be supported and promoted with health messages that took away the fear and stigma that clouds HIV, young gay men may actually be more inclined to test and discrimination and the spread of disease could be reduced in that sharing of information.


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