The editor of Queerty, a progressive online magazine and newspaper, encouraged readers to put aside their fears of catching HIV and strongly consider dating and even having sex with people who are infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
In "What you stand to lose by not having sex with people with HIV," David Hudson argues that gay men should consider "the potential consequences of [their] particular decisions" not to have sex with individuals who have HIV. "Refusing to entertain the idea of dating an HIV-positive person might just mean you miss out on the love of your life," he said.
"If you find yourself single and contemplating why, bear in mind it might be because you blocked 'Mr Right' when you read he was HIV positive on Grindr," the editor said.
Hudson concludes, "Of course, some will say, 'My perfect man doesn't HIV!' Well, I hope you're not too old before you realize: Nobody's perfect."
The writer also noted that concerns with contracting the virus may be overblown. "If someone is HIV positive, knows their status, is on effective medication and has consistently had an undetectable viral load, they cannot pass on the virus," he wrote. Plus, "PrEP is also widely available in the US and several other countries to prevent people from acquiring HIV. And condoms are also, of course, widely available."
"Choose less risky sexual behaviors"
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the use of condoms during sexual intercourse and taking medication can greatly reduce the risk of passing or contracting the virus, avoiding sex remains "the only 100% effective HIV prevention option."
"Choose less risky sexual behaviors," the CDC advises. "The longer you wait to start having oral, vaginal, or anal sex, the fewer sexual partners you are likely to have in your lifetime. Having fewer partners lowers your chances of having sex with someone who has HIV or another STD."
It is true that people who "know their status" and take medication are unlikely to transmit the virus, as the Queerty article claimed. The Department of Health and Human Services notes that individuals "with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partner through sex," but not everyone who has HIV is aware they are infected.
Approximately 165,000 people in the U.S. are unaware they have HIV, according to government statistics.
HIV rates falling
The Queerty article encouraging readers to consider having sex with HIV-positive partners was released just as several cities are seeing fewer new cases of the virus.
In New York City, for instance, "officials say they are on the cusp of the once unthinkable — ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic as new medicines and treatment drove down the number of new cases to a 17-year-low in 2018, Health Department stats show," reported the New York Post. Officials attribute the decline to investments in public health services and the availability of medicines.
Still, more than 6,000 people died of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. in 2016. That same year, HIV was the 9th leading cause of death for those ages 25-34, and for those ages 35-44, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.