The Curious Case of Michael Johnson and the Unhealthy Fear of HIV Shaming

By Nick Delmacy | Posted Jan 23 2014 | 79 Comments  

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This is a tough essay to write. Really, it is.

I don’t want to come off insensitive. Well, that damage may have already been done by the title alone. This isn’t an attack; I genuinely have concerns and a few contradictions that I need to bring to light.

Many people are already forming their opinions of this article and have clicked away or scrolled down to leave their angry comments of disapproval. How dare Nick Delmacy blame the victims!

All I ask is for you to hear me out. Lets look at this epidemic from both sides of the coin.

If we as men, young and old, can’t even have discussions on these important issues, I feel that we will create more divisions within our communities and cultures.

 Anyway…advanced trepidation aside, I journey forward.


Recently the Internet has been abuzz with news that 22-year-old former champion Missouri Lindenwood University wrestler Michael Johnson had been charged in back in October for exposing at least 30 sexual partners to HIV and gonorrhea.

On top of that, Johnson had allegedly secretly videotaped nearly all of his sexual encounters, giving investigators the impression that although Johnson knew that he was HIV positive, his fellow student victims likely had no idea.

Slowly, the men in the videos began to come forward. Johnson now faces quite a few felonies: Recklessly infecting another with HIV and counts of recklessly exposing someone to the risk of infection.

From what I could see, Michael Johnson was a young athlete, personal trainer and bodybuilder who also went by the online name “Tiger Mandingo.” If you peruse his social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Facebook and YouTube workout videos) you can clearly see that he is attractive, masculine and very gay friendly. 

No…let’s face it…

He’s not gay friendly….He’s gay.

There are plenty of photos and videos of the young man living la gay vida loca.

Image courtesy Instagram

Image courtesy Instagram

 




Image courtesy Instagram

Image courtesy Instagram


But who could blame him? He’s young, sociable with a great body.

“Live your life to the fullest.” That’s what I’d normally say…but Michael Johnson’s case is different.

He had been diagnosed with HIV on January 7th 2013, long before his arrest on October 10th of last year.

So let’s recap: Tiger Mandingo was a young, masculine champion athlete with a very desirable, chiseled body living on a college campus having (likely very hot) unprotected sex with willing participants.

If he were not HIV positive, this would describe nearly every athlete enrolled in college right now. Hell, it probably still describes quite a few of them…the difference is they don’t know they’re infected with The Virus.

Ah yes, The Virus.

This is what really makes Tiger Mandingo and his possible actions unconscionable. He KNEW he had the HIV Virus and he still engaged in unprotected sex, possibly without informing his victims.

I have to be careful how I word this because this is America and I believe our citizens are innocent until proven guilty.

Also, this case is a tricky sword’s edge to walk on…There are likely clear indications that Johnson’s sexual partners willingly engaged in unprotected sex with the young man, even knowing that he could have been infected with something.

There it is.

Boom, goes the dynamite.

The fire has been lit. Nick Delmacy has just implied that some responsibility also falls on the HIV positive man’s “victims.” Gay men everywhere are Z-snapping all up in my face for engaging in HIV and/or Slut Shaming.

Before I continue this (dangerous, possibly career ending) train of thought, let me step back a little.


When I was a teenager, I was taught two things more than anything: Don’t do Drugs and always have protected sex.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a loving mother who took care of the home and did her best to teach me how to be a man, but she never had a conversation with me about sex and/or drugs. Ever.

I learned everything though movies, television and through seeing results of other family members’ bad decisions. I had crack users in my family, deteriorating right before my eyes. So ending up like them was out of the question.

Also, keep in mind that his was back in the fucking 90s, nearly 20 years ago. You couldn’t watch an episode of Family Matters, Growing Pains or even Perfect Strangers without eventually seeing a “Very Special” episode about the dangers of unprotected sex.

Hell, even in this raunchy Snoop Doggy Dogg video for, “Gin & Juice,” Dr. Dre ushers a group of girls into a room for Snoop to have orgy sex with and promptly hands him a long roll of condoms. Even Gangster rap music pushed safe sex!

Snoop may not have “loved the hoes” but at least he wasn’t stupid enough to have bareback sex with hot bodied strangers!

Back then, HIV and AIDS were seen as a death sentence, not the “its inconvenient but you can still live a normal life” non-issue that many gay men make it out to seem nowadays.

I was a young discreet black gay man who didn’t want to die. Especially not from that.

nikko1

My HIV Spidey Sense really began its perpetual tingle in 2002 once I heard about Nikko Briteramos. Nikko was a sexy 6’ 9” college athlete (now a male model) that knowingly infected multiple sexual partners with HIV on his Huron University campus (do you see the theme here). After pleading guilty to “Intentional Exposure to HIV”, Nikko ended up spending 18 months in a South Dakota Penitentiary.

After his initial arrest, 237 people were tested for HIV on his college campus. Think about this for a moment. Nikko had been busy. Very busy.

This was the ultimate cautionary tale for me. There were HIV positive people out there knowingly having unprotected sex with others. After this, I learned not to assume that anyone is free of STIs just because they “looked good.”

Remember, this was long before the many episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit shoving this fear down our throats (pun intended).

This was long before EVERY black gay website (except Cypher Avenue) became littered with advertisements for either Bareback Porn, Gay Clubs, HIV/AIDS testing or Elite Condoms (is there nothing else we’re interesting in purchasing…a video game or book maybe).

So now, a heavy stone’s throw away from 40 years old, I’ve gone through my entire adult sexual life without ever getting a sexually transmitted disease. That’s not to say that I’m been 100% smart 100% of the time. However, I never engaged in the high-risk behavior seemingly displayed by Tiger Mandingo’s sexual partners.

Even as a 21-year-old man, I could never have imagined having casual bareback sex with anyone I’d just met online, even if he was a fellow college student and all-star athlete.

Some may argue that I had a better upbringing. Or better education. I wasn’t special. I wasn’t smarter than any of the other average gay men out there. I just knew the risks and chose not to play the odds. Like everyone else, I was aware of the seat belt in the car however I made the decision to always wear it.

I knew that there was a chance other people I had sexual experiences with were infected with Herpes or HIV even if they told me otherwise. I might have passed up on many nights of much desired sex but I have no regrets when I see the doctor hand me that paper with the expected HIV Negative status results. My cautious decisions led to me being HIV-free to this day.

There it is.

We’re back on that fragile ice that I started to walk on earlier.

HIV Shaming.

We live in a day and age where HIV is so common amongst black gay men, saying that you DON’T have it and that you’re proud of your negative status is considered as a possible insult to those that do. This is like not being able to brag about your college degree for fear of offending the high school dropouts of the world.

We live in a society where not only do the masses perceive us to be obsessed with sex, we happily perpetuate this negative stereotype ourselves. Gay men wave their judgmental gay fingers at people that speak frankly on issues like protection and HIV yet later they log onto MyVidster or Xtube to watch the latest up uploads of bareback porn.

No matter what the Pseudo-Intellectual Gay Elites tell me through angry tweets or blog comments, I will never be ashamed of my homosexuality, my love of male masculinity or my Negative HIV status.

Case in point, when I used the image below in a past essay about HIV and my experiences with safe sex, I was besieged with emails and tweets from angry gay men. They were offended by an image that portrayed an infected sexual partner as a huge scorpion waiting to sting his victim.

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This is where we are. We live in a day and age when it’s wrong to dissuade people from getting a deadly virus ravaging our community in epidemic numbers with imagery or speech that could elicit fear/offense.

Last I checked it was a bad thing to get HIV, wasn’t it?

Getting HIV isn’t like getting dope star/paw-print tattoos or new pair of Jordans. Is it?

Don’t get me wrong. I do realize that not all men and women who live with HIV were infected due to irresponsible sex. There are many tragic stories of people who received the virus from blood transfusions or from a “monogamous” long-term partner that they trusted…these men have to deal with the shame of being rejected for doing the right thing and revealing their status whenever they meet a new guy to date or have sex with….I’m not insensitive to their feelings, but they are the exceptions.

True, there are good men and women living with HIV…but the Virus itself is not a part of the Gay Community…Last I checked the initials weren’t LGBT-HIV.

Protect Yourself, Not Your Urges

There are many men out there who live or lived a young, carefree life akin to drag racing without a seat belt and now they are HIV positive. Whether drugs or alcohol were also involved, this doesn’t negate their own responsibility in protecting themselves. They failed.

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Bringing this back to Michael Johnson (aka Tiger Mandingo) I admit without hesitation that if the allegations are true, he is a horrible and selfish human being.

However does the responsibility for the health of other men lie solely on Tiger Mandingo’s shoulders? If Michael Johnson had no idea about his status yet still had unprotected sex infecting his partners, would as many people still be outraged?

Past experiences tell me, “No.”

I’d bet a paycheck that none of the men he had sex with even asked the question, “what’s your status?” Or if they even cared.

Take this story that I told in my HIV essay from 2011:

There was even one guy I met that was attractive, funny, affable, intelligent, employed, lived alone, etc…I really was diggin the dude…but then he wanted to have bareback sex on our first time. Dammit if I wasn’t tempted (naked, in the heat of the moment) to just say, “Fuck it” and go raw…But the “good angel” on my shoulder yelled the loudest and I resisted the temptation. When I denied and asked if he had raw sex often, he replied, “yeah sometimes.” 

This was many years ago, but my training still kicked in to protect MYSELF. I didn’t “trust” this man I’d just met. I didn’t assume he was “clean”…I took responsibility for MYSELF.

A guy I dated once asked me the question, I proudly told him “Negative.” Once he responded by asking me for proof, I knew he was a keeper (turns out he really wasn’t, F.D.B.).

This is what gay men, young or old, should do more: Take responsibility for themselves. Fuck worrying about embarrassing the other man by asking him if he’s HIV positive. Fuck worrying about embarrassing the other man by not taking his word for it when/if he tells you he’s negative. Fuck worrying about the gay black feminists that will accuse you of HIV shaming. Always use condoms.

I’ve never seriously worried about the (alleged) Tiger Mandingo’s of the world because I always assume that everyone has something…and I’ve always protected myself.

Imagine this: Instead of a world where we’re walking on eggshells about how serious the transmission of HIV is, what if we were allowed to imply that people should fear contracting the virus? Wouldn’t that have made the 30+ men that Tiger Mandingo had unprotected sex with a little more hesitant to have bareback sex with a man they only just met?

Some would argue that even bringing up this topic is HIV shaming…some would argue that I’m pushing for an unrealistic, overly cautious way for young black gay men to live.

I respond by showing all of those naysayers the results of my last HIV test.

Still Negative, Bitch.

After 17 years of condom only sexual intercourse with men.

And you were saying?

 

 

About the Author

Nick is a founder, editor and the pop culture expert at Cypher Avenue. Serving as the designer and webmaster of the site, he is the architect of The Cypher Avenue Matrix.

   
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79 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. NYCforEVER | August 5th, 2014
    +1

    I’m not understanding the “outrage” from people. While I would NEVER shame, demean, or even shun someone who may be interested in me, for having HIV, I’m not going to feel sorry for them for being in their situation (if it was indeed contracted via unprotected sex). If a person willingly participated in unprotected sex then I’m sorry, but we are all responsible for our OWN actions. And truth be told, most of us have made that mistake at SOME point in our sexual histories, whether we’de admit to it or not. Just that some of us were lucky enough to dodge the bullet. That’s like feeling sorry for the Lion Trainer that gets mauled by the lions in the ring, or those dumb asses that stick their heads inside Alligator/Crocodiles’ mouths to put on a show. You know what the fuck you’re doing and you know the risks that come with it. Even for myself, I know every time I take a pull on a cigarette I’m possibly taking one more step to some form of cancer. If I develop it, it’s not the damned Cigarette Corps’ faults, it’s not my associates that smoke, it’s not the first person that gave me a cigarette, it’s MINE. I learned as a child, cigarettes cause cancer but I still smoke. I learned as a young adult, unprotected sex is high risk behavior and can lead to HIV contraction. This is not the early 80’s. There is more than enough education on prevention of this disease that it should not be the epidemic that it is. It’s a product of reckless behavior, plain and simple.

  2. Laurent | August 4th, 2014
    -1

    Basically, all you have to say is “unlike you, weak bitches, I didn’t make any mistake and therefore I’m still negative”.

    That’s very constructive. Bravo. In a world of stigma, homophobia, hate, ignorance, bigotry, racism, and prejudice of all sorts, that is all we gay people needed to read. Thank you.

    And please, don’t start and question yourself why people do make mistakes… That would be a waste of your time.

    Tea party anyone ?

  3. Profile photo of
    CGN | February 3rd, 2014
    0

    I don’t blame anyone in the situation. People enjoy sex, in that we make mistakes. We need to decriminalize HIV infections across the board; its vilifying people that are sick. If they got caught up in the moment and had unprotected sex with him, I want proof that he was the only person they slept with. Seems like someone got wind of his infection and made him the scapegoat. Its a chronic illness, if you sleep around, protected or not, and get infected the responsibility should rest with you.

  4. Profile photo of Zion MarQuiese Devereaux
    Zion MarQuiese Devereaux | February 1st, 2014
    +4

    The sad thing about this whole situation is that this wouldn’t even be an issue if WE THE BLACK GAY COMMUNITY didn’t put these types of dudes on thrones and worship them as they are gods.
    HIV no longer looks as it did back in the early 80’s, not even the early 90’s but because these dudes ALREADY have low to no self-esteem and need to have validation and attention they get a smile from dudes like this and the draws come off.
    Instead of teaching the young homosexuals coming into the game about houses, balls, voguing, labels, Sizzle and gym memberships we need to be teaching them about self-worth, self-esteem, and self love.
    We can’t blame this man totally for what he has done when no one held him accountable; instead he is looked at as a god and worshipped for his body and his meat.
    I feel bad for them but they need to be held accountable for the part they played in this.

  5. quest for knowledge | January 26th, 2014
    +2

    This is a much needed discussion. I do feel sorry for those who contracted HIV from this young man, but those individuals must acknowledge how they chose to have unprotected sex and that they must take responsibility for their own actions. It’s mind boggling to me that people can put that much faith in someone who they just met when they simply say they are HIV negative. I do also feel that those who have HIV should be forthcoming with their status. It’s hard for me to understand how someone could willingly have sex and not let the other person know they are HIV positive. By now I believe everyone is well aware of the implications involved with getting HIV. That alone to me is reason enough for one to tell their sexual partner that they have the virus. Even with condom use it has a high a protection rate, but it’s still not 100%. And getting a STD test in someone who recently got the virus won’t show up in the results immediately since it takes time for your body to form antibodies against HIV.

    Having an honest discussion about HIV is in no way HIV shaming. HIV should not be underestimated, having these discussions may discourage those who are considering or are currently participating in risky sexual behavior. When asking ourselves how we should change our approach to fighting HIV we should definitely continue to think of innovative ways to spread the word, but at the end of the day we can’t force folks to make the right decision. It’s ultimately up to them to do…

  6. SB3000 | January 25th, 2014

    I agree with what @nick is saying, 100%. Mofos are loose and hoein it up! These guys are getting attention, intimacy, and affection the only way soo many gay men do, through sex. Its an epidemic of ‘when in rome’. Too many gay men live a life of empty sex, so its not surprising that we see this in each following generation, or that infection rates aren’t declining.

    I also gotta give a few points to what @hannibal was saying about the monogamy thing. To each his own, but I find it hard to believe that many gay men, who watch their str8 friends and family do the whole relationship/falling in love thing, dont end up wanting the same for themselves, but feeling dejected by the grim statistics and outlook. Hence, a bunch of men getting their intimacy needs met from a phone app where its normal to have a dick or ass as ur profile picture. SMH

    • Jeremy | January 31st, 2014

      Not sure I read about guys ‘hoein it up’ or being loose, but I can tell you that as a health care professional that there are plenty of these young men who contract the virus from people they trust, and its normally just them having sex with that one person who, for whatever reasons, has had sex with multiple people. So lets not assume that Nick meant these guys deserve it as much as he’s saying they bear a responsibility in their sexual health.

  7. RellyRell | January 24th, 2014
    +5

    Here’s what I’ve learned/noticed about people in the gay community: everyone wants to have “safe” sex with people who don’t have anything; they like to go through the motions and pat themselves on the back.

    If someone says they’re positive it’s an automatic deal breaker for a lot of people (and that’s their right) but if those same people are told that the person is negative (or their online profile says negative) they proceed to engage in a lot of questionable behavior.

    Even a lot of the guys boasting about their negative status online are running around having unprotected sex and they don’t think that anything is wrong with it because “only whores get infected” and they “know” that the person they’re sleeping with is negative because that person told them or because that persons profile said so.

    People need to realize that even when you get tested, unless you’ve been celibate for a bit of time all you’re getting is a snapshot of your health; what didn’t show up today could show up tomorrow or 2 weeks from now.

    Yes. It’s absolutely horrible/wrong to maliciously infect someone with HIV but the burden of protecting yourself shouldn’t be on the other person, it should be on you; unless you’re being raped you have the power to protect yourself every step of the way.

    • Jeremy | January 31st, 2014
      +1

      Yes, all of this bro…. ALLL OF THIS!!!!

  8. Ace of Hearts | January 24th, 2014

    I really don’t have much to say but @nick YOU DID THAT!!!! I agree with this 100%. Everyone wants to be a victim, but no one wants to man up and face the facts they were man enough to not take the preparer steps and ask the questions that need to be asked.

    Side bar we are back to the old school NO FILTER DAYS!!

  9. ptseti | January 24th, 2014

    Nick…I am a bit older and from the generation where AiDS was the #1 killer of most of my friends. At the time AIDS was the new terrorist and war was declared and for years we fought the battle , winning the fight at times but always loosing the war. Now people are living longer with the disease thanks to the millions of dollars contributed through walks, fund raisers etc. Sadly this has also caused so much stupidity with the current generation that it hurts me to see the lifestyle they choose. Now living with HIV seems to be acceptable. So i am not surprised and i also have no sympathy. To each his own. You get what you sleep with. The lifestyle is sexually driven and everyone is guilty. But it boils down to who cares about who. Sorry no face or dick or ass is worth a careless 20 minutes of wild abandonment. NONE. ITS ABOUT MY WELFARE. When you carelessly give up yourself to someone else’s power this is what happens. There is no excuse. You reap what you sow. Lie in bed with dogs…you get fleas.

    • Jeremy | January 31st, 2014

      The fact that the meds have made it appear as if HIV is not a big deal is concerning. I wouldn’t call it stupidity as much as I would call it ignorance. Yes in 2014 living with HIV “seems to be acceptable”, I mean we could have people saying things like ‘living with HIV seems to be acceptable’, like its something that shouldn’t be, because we all know that doing this will keep people from being open with their status……and that and there is no apparent reason that a seemingly SGL man of color would use the word ‘acceptable’ and NOT see its impact. I think you may need to get some reading done on how its contracted because not everyone catches it from being loose.

      .

  10. Profile photo of LC
    LC | January 24th, 2014
    +1

    I read an empirical study about psycho-social development. It said that the Prefrontal Cortex that is responsible for reasoning, problem-solving, and risking-taking is not fully developed until 25, not at 18 like previously thought. Though I’m sure the study needs to be further researched and replicated. It makes sense why young people in general make bad decisions. Not saying that it’s a cop out or an excuse. When I was that age, I always thought about my health, but I was different. I was not the normal young adult.

    I like the fact that you put responsibility on the victims. The first thing I thought when I read the article “why would you have unprotected sex in the first place knowing that Black Gay Men have higher rates of contracting HIV”. I read an article somewhere, may be on Cypher Avenue, that said it was due to small social networks. I think I may have to explain this further, but I am lazy and really don’t like to write.

  11. Rolandgarros28 | January 24th, 2014
    +8

    I will say this and be done. If there are young men, or old ones for that matter, on CA taking part in or reading this discussion, just understand that it’s easier and less expensive to visit a therapist and talk through your issues than it is to seek validation and comfort from unprotected sex with a stranger. Some of the dialogue may seem harsh but personally, I’d rather push you to take responsibility for your own health now instead of giving you sympathy after the fact. There is even stigma in seeking the help of a therapist but it’s well worth it.

  12. Richard | January 23rd, 2014
    +1

    Very good article! The author’s words are precise, blunt, and true.Individuals who take issue with the author’s purpose should grow up and realize that HIV is in fact “the bad virus” that nobody want. Wrap up every time guys and gals. Peace

  13. Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014
    +1

    Ok so I’m thinking my way of thinking is just for the birds so I depart with this thought…

    HIV is not just a virus but a symptom of a much bigger disease.

    Good evening.

  14. Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014
    +2

    Also…in my opinion the knee jerk reaction is to say “wear condoms”. Who doesn’t know that? Obviously that message isn’t working and in the process of continuing to shout this mantra, thousand of black boys and men are being infected or impacted by HIV. There has to be some thing else or something more because the 80’s & 90’s message is not working.

    • Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014
      +5

      Committed relationships and Monogamy and getting rid of the shame in being gay so gays aren’t so comfortable doing hookups in the dark but feel empowered to have actual relationships.

      • achris | January 23rd, 2014

        I agree with both of you

      • Dre G | January 24th, 2014

        That does contribute to the problem.It creates a desperation in gay men

    • ptseti | January 24th, 2014

      Ocky people hear what they want to hear. The message is out there and its clear . But you will have a few who take their life to the edge and with conflicting messages on one side to cover up and on the porn side the message is BAREBACK IS BEST..’.they experiment and create false reasons for going bareback. The result…60% chance of HIV infection. So i am not blaming the message…blame SELF. Its like the message..don’t play with fire or you will get burnt. Well that message clicks with some and others don’t hear the message. Its a matter of personal choice Ocky, plain and simple. Theres no scientific formula needed here. The only formula is this..YOU TAKE RISK, EXPECT RSIK. Done. Im not making any excuse for stupidity.

  15. Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014
    +2

    Ok so I know I’m by myself on this but, I do feel sorrow for the kats that may have gotten HIV from this dude. As stated below, I dodged the bullet due to my risky behavior but there was a reason for my behavior. I had to get to a point of bettering myself emotionally, mentally and spiritually so I would stop with the random risky shit. People make mistakes and do stupid naive shit that can possibly kill them. Are we not to have any compassion or empathy for emotionally disturbed or dysfunctional young people who may not have seen the light yet? Something about the tone here…I’m not well with.

    • Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014

      unless said person was a pedophile, abuser, or serial killer…I’m not sure how someone could not feel sympathy for someone whose life was purposely altered or put in danger by someone.

      • Rolandgarros28 | January 23rd, 2014
        +1

        Again, the issue isn’t sorrow for me. Sorrow doesn’t prevent these young guys from catching a disease that can kill them. It doesn’t do them one bit of good for me to feel sorrow. We’re having this discussion at almost 10:30pm to try and let these young men know that you don’t have to have unprotected sex because of your circumstances. I personally wouldn’t treat a person like dirt because they have HIV no more than I would look down on someone who went to jail for robbing a store when they were 20. I’m just frustrated that we always seem to go the way of feeling sorry for people instead of kicking them in the ass before they catch something. @Ocky, I’m glad you dodged a bullet. I really am because so many weren’t as lucky. I can’t judge a person’s heart and head and why they do certain things. That’s all I can say. I just don’t know of any other way to stop the spread of this disease other than personal responsibility.

        • Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014
          +1

          Sorrow leads to compassion which is something that is lacking these days.

          • Rolandgarros28 | January 23rd, 2014

            I have sorrow for my friend and what he goes through on a daily basis. I’ve helped him pay for medicine at times and taken him to appointments. He still has AIDS. When I ask him what someone could’ve done to prevent him from having unprotected sex 7 years ago when he acquired HIV, he just shrugs his shoulders and says I don’t think anything. So I feel like sorrow isn’t really helping the situation. So I ask you @Ocky, what do you think could’ve been done to prevent you from engaging in risky behavior because I honestly don’t have the answer and, sadly, neither does my friend.

    • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014
      +1

      See this is the delicate balance to walk with this conversation…If you always have to have on delicate lace Mary Poppins gloves when discussing HIV or the spread of the virus in the black gay community, we’re lost…because obviously the tender compassionate methods have not been working.

      Case in point, the lightweight Caucasian parenting method of “Billy go to your room!” is not working….Maybe we need more James Evans Srs taking off their belts and beating some sense into these kids.

      • Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014

        and just where has the “safe sex wear condoms” message from the 80’s and 90’s gotten us? we are still at this point talking about the same thing. this is just as bad as the failed war on drugs.

    • Dre G | January 23rd, 2014

      I get where you’re coming from.Even if it wasn’t sexual or health related we’ve all done some dumb shit at some point.At the end of the day they have a life-altering if not life-threatening illness.Their actions were wrong (inexcusable even ?) but they’re dealing with the consequences so we shouldn’t give them crap about it.

      In cases like this though,the limited sympathy comes in to play when you think about people who were infected completely involuntary. I don’t advocate going to the extreme to make them feel inferior,but you have to at least acknowledge your own behavior and its effects.

    • Dre G | January 23rd, 2014

      Admitting your errors makes you grow and do better,and sometimes provides an example for others to do the same

      • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014

        Agreed @thatguy, whether HIV positive or negative, no one in this thread or on this website is perfect or has made zero mistakes…including myself…However teaching others as examples can be beneficial to other men

        • Dre G | January 24th, 2014

          @Nick that way the other men will see how their predecessors fared and will hopefully decide to deal with the problems they may have had that @Ocky mentioned instead of indulging them

    • ptseti | January 25th, 2014

      Ocky i am the first to admit that we all have different path to travel and we are at the staring wheel , no one can drive us on our personal road. Now some of us will take years to handle the steering wheel , some will drive recklessly, some will be very good drivers but we all have to know how to go over the bumps in the road. Yes i agree with you some will need more help and others a lot of compassion but at the end of the day seeking and hiding under compassion is not facing your ultimate duty and that is to take responsibility for your actions. We all have 2 feet . We have to stand up and use them. When we get to a bump in the road and we get knocked down, stand up. Human beings are not created equal but thankfully we all have the power to say yes or no. Rich or poor, dumb or smart, psychopath or remedial we have a choice. Use it well. Life is not about seeking compassion. Its about making your mark. Will it be memorable or regretable? You decide.

    • Jeremy | January 31st, 2014

      @ptseti don’t have compassion for anyone lol. You could probably get raped and contract the virus and he’d think it was your fault. I think you raise a good point, people who are younger tend to do naive things. Sometimes they come away unscathed, other times, they don’t. The goal should be to educate through mentoring and not by simply telling people to put on a condom. The problem with the wrap it up message is that it only applies to those who are negative, its a prevention message so it will have little effect on those who are positive because you can’t prevent something you already have.

  16. Rolandgarros28 | January 23rd, 2014
    +1

    Ummmm. I’m not saying I harass people who acquired HIV through careless and risky behavior. I only know one and we’ve talked about it. They know what they did wrong and they accept responsibility for their actions. They don’t go around blaming the dude that gave it to them. That’s all I’m saying. We can pass all the laws we want to but I bet if every bottom demanded the use of a condom, HIV/AIDS infection rates would plummet in this country faster than the affects of any law. To be fair, every top could demand condom usage as well.

  17. over it | January 23rd, 2014

    Bottom line (no pun intended), but his partners are MORE culpable concerning potentially being exposed to HIV. If you don’t value yourself, then why shoul some random nigga? I had to learn the hard way. WAKE THE FUCK UP PEOPLE

    • Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014

      TRUE but again…Because its the law. Seems like we keep forgetting this. Folks with TB are prohibited from getting on airplanes because they could spread it to others. HIV+ folks are required by law to disclose their status to potential sex partners. Does this not matter?

      • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014

        It matters but just because something is the law doesn’t mean that it will always be followed.

  18. Cyrus Brooks | January 23rd, 2014

    My 2 cents, people have known for years, decades even how the virus is transmitted if you are that cavalier about your own safety don’t cry when you get bit. That may sound harsh but we all men and we all know when you play the game sometimes you loose big.

  19. Profile photo of Steven Austin
    Steven Austin | January 23rd, 2014
    +1

    Great article, and while I definitely agree, I also believe that (in answer to your rhetorical questions at the end) there is a sense of superiority, condescension, and invincibility that is implied/inferred when people like you mention (brag about) their negative status. …and recognizing that not everyone who endures this disease was out “trickin’ n treatin’,” is it not dismissive of that very notion to persuade people to “not end up like them?”

    • Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014
      +4

      As a person who has dodged the HIV bullet via my past risky behavior I disagree. He (nick) should be proud and congratulated for doing the right thing to remain HIV – More people need to brag and boast about their HIV- status vs wearing their HIV+ status as proud gay war scars. I rarely hear about the horrors of HIV anymore because now people are living longer and its “not a big deal”. Most people today contract the virus through poor behavior/decisions. “Shame” is not a dirty word. It used to cause people to do the right thing. Not anymore.

      • Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014

        I disagree. Would you walk into a cancer clinic and boast about being cancer free?

        • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014
          +1

          If it was Lung cancer in a room full of lifetime cigarette smokers, yes I would. I made the choice not to inhale smoke into my lungs for decades.

          • Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014

            for the 3rd time in my life…I’m speechless.

            • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014
              +1

              Please don’t tell me that the other two times were during episodes of AHS: Coven….

              • Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014

                no, A Beyonce concert!

            • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014
              0

              ed-nortan-laptop.gif

              • Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014

                Oh now I feel awful for making a joke on such a serious thread….but you started it and I’ve never been to a Yonce concert.

      • Profile photo of Steven Austin
        Steven Austin | January 23rd, 2014

        What I’m saying is that there are quite a few people (only you know the truth about yourself, so save for you in this instance) who engage in higher-risk activities yet because they have yet to “get got,” they feel a sense of entitlement to lord their “luck,” if you will, over others. THAT is what I’m saying is hypocritical, ….and does absolutely nothing to contribute to solving the problem.

  20. Rolandgarros28 | January 23rd, 2014

    @Nick, I can’t believe that you’re really getting a lot of pushback for this article or any other with similar sentiments. While I agree that this guy is a scumbag if he knowingly slept with these men without informing them of his status, the ultimate responsibility is theirs. I get so annoyed when people start talking about their rights to be told of someone else’s status on a hookup. We can’t go through life waiting for someone to protect us from our own actions and decisions. It’s like I tell my little brother who just started driving, you may be the first one at the 4-way stop but are you going to pull in front of that big rig who insists on going first? We can be right and dead a lot of times in life. Sometimes it feels good to be wrong and alive.

    The really sad thing is I guarantee every one of these young dudes, and girls if there were any, can tell you 100 ways for a human to contract HIV yet they still engage in this risky behavior. Why? Don’t cry to me if you have unprotected sex with a stranger and come back infected or pregnant. It’s just that simple.

    • Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014

      Okay so we do understand that there are laws in place where you have to or suppose to disclose your HIV+ status to a person/s if you are about to engage in sex with them right? Emotions and opinions aside, its the law. If he broke the law he should be punished.

      • Rolandgarros28 | January 23rd, 2014

        Yeah, I’m not absolving Mr. Johnson of his responsibility to follow the law or be a man with character. But while laws are supposed to deter irresponsible behavior, most of the time, laws are there simply to punish after the fact. This man could be put away for 200 years and if you contracted HIV from him, you will still have it regardless. While I don’t go around bragging about my HIV status, I certainly have a hard time feeling sympathy for someone who contracted it from risky behavior. I mean it’s been since 1981 that we’ve known about this and these aren’t 14-year olds. These are grown folk still doing this. SMH

  21. Dre G | January 23rd, 2014
    +1

    I wish more people living with HIV l would use their experience to talk about how it’s not always so easy to live with.Maybe other guys would be less flippant about unsafe sex.And maybe even seeing attractive men talk about their hardships with the virus would make them know a hard bodied adonis can be infected too.

    But you gotta always be safe.would you not lock your doors at night because you didn’t think any thieves or killers were nearby?

    • Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014

      I was taking classes to be an HIV tester/counselor last year(I went through a midlife activist phase) and apparently people generally under 25 are seeking out the virus so they can get free rent and food stamps. I’m still blown away by that.

    • Rolandgarros28 | January 23rd, 2014

      The horrors of HIV/AIDS is out there. If you’re an adult and you don’t fear what the virus can do to your body, then you are either supremely ignorant or on a suicide mission. It’s been talked to death. I honestly don’t know what else can be done to make people stop doing this crap.

      • achris | January 23rd, 2014
        +2

        The STIGMA is what keeps this virus going. I assure you people would be more willing to get tested and not live in ignorant “bliss” or w.e we want to call it IF they didn’t feel like they were going to be shamed (or judged or called a whore) for coming forth and having the virus. I am not saying it is right or wrong, but clearly preaching the same old things we KNOW isn’t helping, the problem is actually getting worse. We have got to change the way we DISCUSS this disease PERIOD…first by realizing that everyone’s story is different and that each needs to be shared.

        • Rolandgarros28 | January 23rd, 2014
          +1

          The problem I have with this sentiment is @nick clearly stated the difference between acquiring the disease through blood transfusions and mother to child transmissions. Having the disease isn’t a stigma but how you contracted it matters. And I don’t understand what knowing your status has to do with anything. If I tested positive, I don’t have to shout it through the rooftops and take out an add in The New York Times. How about I just make the decision not to have raw sex with people without telling them. That way there is no shame. Wouldn’t that be a noble thing for me to do? Just asking.

          • Ocky Williams | January 23rd, 2014
            +3

            Doing the right thing would mean caring about others. That is a attribute that is lacking and missing from today’s society…and it aint coming back.

          • achris | January 23rd, 2014
            +1

            Ummm to say there is not a stigma placed on people that have the virus is quite questionable. I agree, the way the disease is transmitted does matter (for reasons probably diff than why you think so), but as i said, everyone’s story is different and if someone did acquire it sexually, that doesn’t make them some worse person or someone that deserves our judgement (which we often give without anyone asking for it). Maybe, as I said below, they aren’t searching for anyones sympathy. I agree we should all have protected sex (and if someone chooses not to thats their prerogative and I assume they are aware of what could happen) and we should ask about our sexual partners status, but why do you think a lot of ppl don’t ask and why do you think some ppl lie, or better yet why do a too many ppl not even know the answer to the question, the stigma. Ignorance is bliss and if the stigma of having the virus wasn’t so strong, if ppl weren’t referred to as “diseased” or “dirty” or “whore” or w.e, maybe more people would be willing to not only get tested but share their status and stories with others which would go a longer way in helping to curb the statistics imo. I in no way think deceiving others is right, HOWEVER, I’m not that blind to see why this issue continues to plague us.

            • Rolandgarros28 | January 23rd, 2014

              @achris, I know I sound callous but, unlike @nick, this isn’t a difficult conversation for me to have. If I went to my doctor today and got tested and found out I had HIV, I have the option to not tell a single sole. That’s my own private decision, thank god for HIPPA laws. So if I don’t share it, how can I feel judged or stigmatized? Just like I have the right to not share that information, I have the choice to demand the use of a condom with any sexual conquest. I’m protecting them and they don’t even know it. You make it seem like once a person tests positive, the doctor places the results in a local AIDS registrar like you’re a sex offender. This is not the case. It’s called being an adult and doing the right thing and no amount of studies and round table sis going to change that.

              • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014

                EXACTLY! And the overall point I tried to make repeatedly was that EVERYONE should be using condoms regardless of status! Positive or negative, use condoms! Its not foolproof but its better than the high risk sex that a lot of these teen and 20-somethings engage in weekly.

              • achris | January 23rd, 2014

                The point is people SHOULD share the info with their sexual partners, or even know it for themselves, but don’t because of the fear of what people will think, people feeling sorry for them, etc. Thats where the stigma may come in although I see what you are getting at.

        • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014
          +1

          This is the catch 22, isn’t it…How can you make people fear contracting a virus when you have erased the stigma, shame and seriousness that comes with getting the Virus through irresponsible actions.

          If we keep preaching that there’s “nothing wrong with being HIV positive” then young men will act cavalier in the face of contracting through bareback sex with a sexy HIV-infected partner.

          Its a difficult issue to discuss, but these discussions need to be had in a frank and honest manner.

          • Discordance | January 23rd, 2014

            “Back then, HIV and AIDS were seen as a death sentence, not the “its inconvenient but you can still live a normal life” non-issue that many gay men make it out to seem nowadays” One think that most people aren’t talking about is that HIV drugs are only effective if taken properly and even then the virus can mutate which can lead to drug resistant strains and put us right back where we started in the 80s & 90s. In a time when many people are concerned about bird and swine flu, it might be a good idea to deal with issues already at our door step.

          • Discordance | January 23rd, 2014

            Yes there is a stigma concerning HIV (esp among gay men), but HIV doesn’t give a damn about race, sexuality, or religion. It’s a living organism that exists solely to spread and consume and will take advantage of every opportunity.

          • achris | January 24th, 2014
            +1

            I don’t think the seriousness has been erased. The fact that it is no longer medically a fatal disease because it can be managed as a chronic one with meds does not take away from it being very serious. The people who need to be speaking, those that are living their lives with HIV, are the ones who often don’t speak out because of fear of stigma. I know from personal experience people who do not live in sorrow and misery and actually have gone on to do great things, but who will never speak about their stories, how they contracted it, the physical, mental, and emotional reasons (yea its not just not wearing a condom for some) they got it, because of the fear of being stigmatized, despite everything else that may be going on in their lives that’s “shockingly” good and despite the good they may be able to contribute to the conversation. Scaring someone straight CLEARLY hasn’t and isn’t going to do anything. The entire way this topic is discussed in our community has to be reframed imo. I agree, the kid gloves have to come off, but with those gloves we also have to get rid of generalizations, judgements, and ideas that everyone with HIV live the same sad lives, in the same way we would like to when talking about homosexuality generally.

      • Dre G | January 23rd, 2014

        You’re roght it is out there.We should all have at least some shallow awareness of how bad it is,but I think if we had more actual poz people going public about it in various ways and describing their health struggles people would associate it more with human pain and it’s be less of a theoretical possible consequence.Similar to what scared straight does for at risk youth

  22. Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014
    +4

    And on a related note I’ve become leery of this story being pushed all over social media. I think it’s a big important story but something about it being literally everywhere seems like anti-gay propaganda because also this week a bigtime black pastor was convicted of doing the very same thing with his female congregants…but that story has been conspicuously low key. And furthermore, these stories wouldn’t happen as often if instead of simply pushing safe sex in the gay community we pushed monogamy. You can’t walk down the street without getting free condoms in gay cities but nothing on building a healthy monogamous gay relationship.

    • Cyrus Brooks | January 23rd, 2014

      I totally agree you hit the nail on the head.

  23. Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014

    Not entirely disagreeing with you but the best analogy I can think of is if you go to someone’s house to eat and that person knows you have a specific food allergy, if they know that allergen is in the food is it their responsibility to tell you or your responsibility to ask?

    • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014

      First of all, an allergic reaction to a meal is not the same thing as being infected with HIV through sexual intercourse.

      Second of all, yes it is your responsibility to ask the person if the meal was made with peanuts if you have a peanut allergy.

      However, as noted in the article, many men don’t even ask the question, knowing the risk. They see a tasty looking meal and just dig in.

      • Hannibal | January 23rd, 2014

        It’s just a complex issue that I’m not even sure how to get my specific disagreement across. Good article.

        • Nick Delmacy | January 23rd, 2014

          Yeah its difficult…on one hand I don’t want to ostracize the men and women who were infected through no fault of their own…but on the other hand its unfair for the reckless people to garner the same sympathy

          • achris | January 23rd, 2014

            I think the problem lies in thinking that everyone that is HIV + (outside of the ppl pressing charges in this case) are searching for some type of sympathy.. I do agree, responsibility lies with both parties though.

      • LEE B | January 23rd, 2014

        Before I even kiss somebody I ask them about all diseases,herpes simplex 1,2, HPV, hepatitis, what ever disease I can think of and I know a lot of them. People think I’m weird and crazy, I am a lil bit, but still I don’t care if it offends someone or not. And I am as serious as a heart attack when I ask.




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