HIV and the rise of complacency

Published: June 15, 2010

There’s a scene in Jonathan Harvey’s play, Canary, in which two gay men — one young, one middle-aged — are about to have sex with each other for the first time. The younger one announces that he is into “BB” — barebacked sex or sex without a condom. His older conquest is appalled. “What if I’m HIV?” he demands. The younger man shrugs. “So what if you do give me something?” he replies. “I’ll just take pills.”

Of all the scenes in Harvey’s acclaimed drama about homosexual experience over the past five decades this one is attracting the most attention. This is because it epitomises an issue worrying many people within the gay community — a new complacency about HIV.

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