With 49 dead and more than 100 injured from a brutal rampage through a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, some have taken to Twitter to voice their opinions on the violence. Sadly, not every tweet is polite, peaceful, or well informed, especially when it comes to people living with HIV.
The tone of these messages suggest that many in America are poorly education about HIV, and the widespread belief that HIV is a "gay disease" is still very, very real. As media tried to clarify the ban on blood for donations from gay and bi men, it only seemed to rekindle old stereotypes and fear about HIV on social networks.
Just some of the tweets:
— peanut Butthurt (@Peanut_Butthurt) June 12, 2016
People are so stupid. The fact that they're not letting gays donate for Orlando isn't because they're gay. It's to prevent spreading HIV.
— Martin (@CaileeJonesKell) June 12, 2016
— Occidental Doom (@neverforgiveus) June 12, 2016
— urstrulydashing (@urstrulydashing) June 12, 2016
This is not opression. This is a problem YOU caused by having unprotected sex and therefor have higher risk for HIVhttps://t.co/Zqo9Vl8AXs
— Ind0ctr1n3 (@Ind0ctr1n3) June 13, 2016
In other news HIV rates in America drop drastically.#Orlando
— Alpha Q Dry (@K_Sneed) June 12, 2016
— Karen Plunkett (@KarenPlunkett) June 13, 2016
The ignorance and homophobia social media is a reminder of the mperative that men and women living with and working in the HIV field, and even those of us with a basic knowledge of the virus, continue to raise awareness of the reality of the virus. HIV is not a "gay" disease. It is not a death sentence, and people living with HIV can still live productive, healthy lives. Clearly many still don't see people living with HIV as human beings worthy of basic dignity and respect.
Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this is that these kind of vulgar and ignorant comments have no place in public discussion, and certainly not while the parents, friends, and family members of dozens of men and women prepare to bury their loved ones.