Are you clean?

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the single pool and been actively searching for dates and sexual partners. Yes, I’ll admit it (as should we all) that there was a time when I was looking for Mr Right Now instead of Mr Right.  And there’s no shame in that game. Even though it’s been awhile, the one question on dating sites/apps like Grindr that is still all too common that always made me stop in my tracks was “Are you clean?”

Am I clean? The first time I was asked that, I didnt quite get the meaning.  I played it off all funny like “well, I showered this morning…”. Until I finally figured out what it meant.  And then I realized how inherently ignorant that question is.

“Are you clean?” is asked with infuriating regularity on gay dating sites and apps… and in person too.  Implying that someone is “dirty” because they are HIV positive may not be the intent, but that’s essentially the outcome.  Not to mention that basing your sexual behavior on the answer to that question, which may be unknown or a lie, is precisely how people become infected in the first place.  If you’re willing to increase the risk level of your behavior based on the answer to that question, with someone you probably just met, then you may want to pause and reconsider.

But more than that – it’s a ridiculous question.  “Cleanliness” has nothing to do with contracting HIV.  Again, just because someone showered an hour ago doesn’t mean they aren’t carrying a STD.  For that matter, sometimes getting a little bit dirty can be fun.  But the “are you clean” question really just drives another wedge in the gay community, between those who are HIV positive and those who aren’t.  Perhaps the only thing we need to clean up is our language.

Feel free to comment on how the “are you clean?” question makes you feel – whether you are HIV positive or negative.

hiv status stigma project

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