Fear and Love in the Time of AIDS

Published: September 16, 2012

Fear and ignorance. Every one of us been there. Never more so than in the face of AIDS. Accurate knowledge will simplify decision making and dispel fears.

About 20 years ago, I had completed an AIDS volunteer course, then enrolled in a Hot Rap Safer Sex course with the AIDS Committee of London [since renamed Regional HIV/AIDS Connection]. I wouldn’t say I was a promiscuous person but back then I was no Mary Poppins, either. I couldn’t believe my safer sex revolution would enhance my creativity and imagination when it came to relationships. But it did.

When my instructor described dating someone who is HIV-positive, for the first time I thought, “Well, why not?”

Even today, people still have a reaction when you tell them you’ve dated an HIV-positive person. How many of us can say with 100 per cent certainty he or she hasn’t? If you’re sexually active, just assume at some point you may have come across a victim of the virus.

In the early 90s, people were understandably hesitant to say they were HIV-positive because of the reactions they would receive. I recall one man telling me he became celibate as soon as he found out because he said, “Why would anyone want to get involved with a walking Titanic?” I asked him, “Does that mean we should have our dates fill out questionnaires: Are you currently suffering from any life-threatening disease (such as cancer or AIDS)?”

What relationship comes with a lifetime guarantee?

So back in 1990, I was a man on a mission. I answered an ad from someone HIV-positive in Toronto looking for a serious relationship.

“Okay, I’ll take the bus down to London Friday after work,” Robert said.

“How will I know you’re you?”

“I’m 6’1″ and I’ll be wearing a purple tank top [It was the 90s folks!]. Oh and I look like a cross between Al Pacino and Sylvester Stallone.”

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