Subscribe to our RSS feed

The Latest Stories By Mark S. King

  • Mr. Gay World entry gets personal on PrEP and testing poz
  •  The sound of stigma
  • Packing up the man who wasn’t there
  • The challenging web series that travels from ‘Unsure’ to ‘Positive’
  • I Discovered My Brother Was Gay from The Advocate Magazine

Mark S. King

Mark S. King

Mark S. King and his very funny site "My Fabulous Disease" must share some DNA with Positive Lite, because his light-hearted approach to living with HIV feels just like family. "My Fabulous Disease" has the authority of Mark's lifelong HIV activism mixed with the wit of your favorite gay uncle.

Apr25

Mr. Gay World entry gets personal on PrEP and testing poz

Monday, 25 April 2016 Written by // Mark S. King - My Fabulous Disease Categories // Activism, As Prevention , Gay Men, Features and Interviews, Health, International , Treatment, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Mark S. King

Mark S. King writes about the UK’s Sadiq Ali, Mr Gay Great Britain, who tested HIV-positive just as he was to embark on a PrEP trial.

Mr. Gay World entry gets personal on PrEP and testing poz

When Sadiq Ali heard about a clinical trial for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) happening in the United Kingdom in 2013, the athletic 26-year old hesitated. He worried about what starting PrEP might say to people about his sexual behavior. The stigma he associated with being on the prevention pill was just too much for him. 

I was ashamed to even be offered this thing, even though I barely knew what it was,” the Londoner says now. “I thought that only highly promiscuous and risky sex practitioners would take this. I went through this process of ‘slut shaming’ myself. I was still very naïve at this point.” 

So, Sadiq waited a few more months, had second thoughts, and decided to enroll in the PrEP study after all. Unfortunately, fate had dealt him a crushing blow. 

Between the time Sadiq heard about the study and before he actually began taking PrEP, he was infected with HIV. It occurred literally days before he started taking the pill. His first HIV test during the study, in January of 2014, revealed the infection. 

“I thought if I took PrEP it would make me all the things I didn’t think were me. Things that I didn’t want to be,” he says, pointing to the promiscuity about which many gay men taking PrEP are accused. “But instead, not taking it resulted in me contracting HIV.” 

The irony of Sadiq’s tragic timing forged an advocate who is fighting both HIV stigma and for the adoption of PrEP in the United Kingdom (it is an advocacy issue that was further ignited when the UK National Health Services took action that has delayed the approval of Truvada as PrEP, perhaps for years). 

This past year, Sadiq won the title of Mr. Gay Great Britain, and his advocacy platform is something he now understands all too well: HIV stigma among gay men, and why PrEP is such an important new prevention tool. 

In his emotional and inspiring video as a contestant for Mr Gay World – the finals are happening this week on the island of Malta — Sadiq courageously shares his story of deciding to join the PrEP trial too late, and what the experience has taught him about internalized stigma. 

“Something was lifted from my shoulders when I filmed the video,” Sadiq says. “I can now be in a position to educate.” 

British PrEP advocate and gay internet personality Greg Owen understands just how frustrating the unfortunate timing of Sadiq’s HIV diagnosis was. Greg, too, was infected with HIV just as he was to begin participating in a PrEP trial. The two men – one a longtime advocate, the other a newly minted one – filmed an interview for #GregChats that is as good-natured as it is emotional. 

As for Sadiq’s week ahead in Malta, he intends to showcase both his advocacy and his eye-popping skill as a gymnast and circus performer. Anyone in the world can vote for Sadiq right here

“The community support I’m receiving behind me is swelling up” he says. “I am more motivated than I have ever been and I feel proud. I know that I am doing the right thing. I want to tell people that there is a way to protect yourself, and there is no need to judge yourself for that. To take your status into your own hands is something empowering.” 

He also has no preconceived expectations about his chances to take home the title of Mr. Gay World. Winning is beside the point, Sadiq believes. 

“Of course,” he says, “I have already won.” 

Mark 

(Photo credit: Josh Auke. Videos produced by Nuno Lopes.) 

This article previously appeared on Mark’s own blog My Fabulous Disease here.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=62&v=6_9j6HJKhZU

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=240&v=lJFmhkJRNPo

 

No video selected.
No video selected.

MarketPlace