HIV Difference? is the third phase of our printed resource first launched in 2008 called Sero Disco and relaunched in 2012 as SeroDisco2. This print resource supported gay men starting or already in a new serodiscordant sexual relationship (where one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative). It posed the question Why let HIV get in the way of a good relationship?
During this time, we understood that gay men like their heterosexual counterparts in serodiscordant relationships, were no longer relying on condoms within their relationships. Both SeroDisco and SeroDisco2 targeted gay men with a range of personal stories demonstrating HIV prevention strategies that minimised HIV transmission, such as reliance on serosorting, strategic positioning, viral load monitoring and other negotiated sex safety options. Some gay men in serodiscordant relationships also began to think differently about condoms and their HIV risk management option when new research in 2011 showed HIV treatment decreased the likelihood of passing on HIV.
While sero-discordance in gay relationships was still a challenging notion in many quarters of the gay community, SeroDisco and SeroDisco2 openly invited discussion around responsibility, rejection, transmission risk and disclosure and asked questions like Does undetectable mean un-infectious? How safe is oral sex? Is safe sex for gay men in serodiscordant relationships more than condoms?
HIV Difference? takes up this evolving story in today’s world of HIV, sex, health and love. Over eight years after the first Sero Disco, the division between sero-status, HIV positive, negative or unknown has been transformed with a gradual erasure of the ‘sero-divide’ in sexual relationships for people living with HIV. Today with the benefits of immediate treatment commencement along with long term adherence to treatment and viral load monitoring, Treatment as Prevention (TasP) is an acceptable and powerful HIV prevention strategy. For the first time, PrEP has delivered another powerful blow to the ‘sero-divide’ reducing fear and anxiety and opened up a new freedom between partners of all HIV sero-status.
This HIV Difference? gives voice to a range of ‘silent warriors’ who boldly tackle the biggest killer of all, HIV stigma. Their stories shine a light on paths through boundaries of fear, culture, gender, sero-status and disclosure to find freedom, excitement and adventure in ways that was previously unheard of. Voices like country boy Robert who has moved on from restricting himself to sex only with other positive men, to the positive married mother of four (Dianne) who is more comfortable in her relationship with her HIV-negative husband, the sexual adventurers (Ted and Dan) using PrEP to promote acceptance and explore a new sexual freedom and liberation, the HIV different couples (Fox & Thomas, Carlo & Jared) with their own everyday life struggles planning for their futures together, to Suresh, Matt and Aaron living and loving in a post-Grim Reaper world. All speak about changing their personal beliefs about sex and intimacy as they face this ‘brave new world’ of freedom full of desire, pleasure and acceptance.
These generous narrators normalise this new playing field of living and loving in an environment which is slowly coming to the realisation of what it means to be Ending HIV today.
Craig Cooper – CEO Foreword