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When AIDS first became a public health concern in the early 1980s, many people tried to turn away from it and pretend it didn’t exist.
Since that time, people with HIV have fought relentlessly for visibility, rights and services.
But one group of people with HIV has remained largely invisible and has rarely been named in the history of this modern epidemic: straight men.
Though the Public Health Agency of Canada’s most recent statistics (2013) attributed 19.6% of HIV cases in men to heterosexual contact, straight men seem to have been largely left out of discussions about HIV and the services established to respond to it.
Antoniou notes that the fathers he has been working with “worry about the stigma [of HIV] being transferred to their children.” In fact, his newest research project is examining issues related to fatherhood for men who are living with HIV, an area that has seldom been addressed in Canada or internationally.
Straight men with HIV may need help and support, but it is difficult to find.
“The thing that these men want to achieve more than anything is to have their sexual identity recognized,” Antoniou says.
I kept hearing that some just couldn’t afford to come.” Despite these barriers, he knows of at least one successful meeting to have come out of these events: “At one of the parties I held, I met a girl.
To this day she’s my girlfriend and we have a son together.” Disclosure and confidentiality remain important concerns for straight men with HIV even once they are in relationships and have families.
agrees: “In all this time, I’ve never had any outside help and it’s only by sheer force of will, and with the help of my wife, that I have managed not only to stay healthy but to keep on with the sometimes arduous medical regimens that people with HIV have to undergo.” When asked what services would look like for straight men who are living with HIV, G.
is momentarily at a loss: “I wouldn’t even know where to begin.