METRO Charity releases new campaign on dating, sex and HIV
Today METRO has released a new video campaign to tackle HIV stigma and raise awareness of support services in London.
In the video, people from Latin American and Eastern European communities talk about their experiences of love, sex and relationships as people living with HIV in London.
What's dating like when you're living with HIV?
Dating when you're living with HIV can often be difficult. Prejudice and stigma around HIV mean people often aren't sure when to disclose their status or how to handle their partner's reaction.
Some people find their partners are understanding and supportive. However, too many people still find that their partner might believe things that aren't true about HIV. This means people living with HIV can find themselves isolated, confused or unfairly treated.
Stigma and disclosure
We asked people from our HIV prevention and support programme what happens when they tell people about their status. People living with HIV can find they are blocked on dating apps, told by partners that they're not interested anymore or sent insulting or abusive messages.
"We talked for a few weeks, but then they found out and said they’re not interested... and blocked me." – Channan
"They said, “Are you clean?” and I said, “What does it matter?! We’re just having a coffee!" – João
"Many times I’ve been called a dirty person on apps like Grindr and Scruff" – Bruno
The video ends with the message that undetectable=untransmittable (U=U). Someone living with HIV who is on effective treatment can't transmit the virus to anyone else. This is due to recent advances in HIV treatment.
"So when I'm in the pub or on a dating app, I don't think to myself 'oh, I have HIV'. I can have a normal sex life now. And I don't have to think about my status when I have sex now." – Jakub
HIV prevention and support
The campaign aims to highlight the realities of living with HIV, reduce stigma and link people to support services.
Our Emerging Communities programme runs HIV prevention and support workshops in Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian and Polish. We also run a monthly social group for people living with HIV and can refer people to other METRO services, such as one-to-one mentoring and counselling.
We are working to improve the wellbeing of London’s emerging migrant communities, where HIV prevalence is significantly higher than the general population. We want to reduce HIV stigma, increase knowledge and awareness of HIV transmission and testing and reduce risk-taking behaviours. This video is part of our Emerging Communities work, which is funded by MAC AIDS Fund.
Dr Greg Ussher, CEO of METRO Charity, said:
"For over 25 years, METRO has been working with people affected by HIV to make a difference. I’m really proud that at this point in the epidemic we are still doing that – and this time by highlighting U=U. Our work with people in London from culturally diverse backgrounds teaches us so much about the resilience required to keep on combatting stigma, to keep on seeing the value of love, sex and relationships. We are very grateful to MAC AIDS Fund for their continuing support of our groundbreaking emerging communities work."
This is the first video in our Emerging Communities series. Subscribe to us on YouTube for updates, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
If you are Latin American, Brazilian or Eastern European and living in or near London, we have a new series of workshops on HIV prevention starting next week. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.