COMMENT: George Michael can’t shrug off HIV

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Ryan Haynes

It can be argued that George Michael’s recent decision to pull his interview from the upcoming BBC programme Stephen Fry: HIV and Me is justified because it’s such a personal issue.

However, to discover that he does not believe in HIV tests and finds waiting for results too harrowing is pathetic and cowardly.

Someone who is a role model, idol and influencer for so many, hiding from an infection which eventually led to the death of his former partner, Anselmo Feleppa, through an AIDS-related illness, is ignorant.

I have been faced with the prospect of being diagnosed positive after discovering sexual partners were HIV.

This was before PEP was properly on the scene, but it is more important now than ever to know your status.

Earlier this year I participated in a sexual health test as part of filming for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Illnesses, hosted by the drop-dead beautiful Dr. Christian Jessen.

Although I in fact took part in the programme due to reoccurring irritation in the urethra I was advised that I should undergo a full check for STI’s (sexually transmitted infections).

This involved testing for syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea, in front of a camera for national television (which has been shown in several countries across the world).

The reasons I chose to take part in this programme was to show that we should not be ashamed of having sex and being tested for sexual infections.

Over the years Mr Michael has been incredibly liberal; ‘coming out’ by getting caught cottaging, attacking the Iraq war, slumping over his steering wheel high on cannabis, getting caught in the bushes on Hampstead Heath, backing HIV and AIDS campaigns in Africa and Band Aid.

Yet the man runs from himself and turns his back on everything he stands for when he refuses to get tested for HIV.

HIV is commonplace in the gay community and something we have to accept.

The National Blood Service still does not accept gay men because of the high risk factor.

The only way we can reverse these prejudices, and common social and religious views that homosexuals are AIDS carriers, is by confronting our own demons.

Going for an HIV test is daunting, the fear that is experienced whether you wait an hour or a week for the results is incomparable to any other disease or infection.

HIV still does not have a cure, but we do not have to die from the infection.

People can live long happy lives, but there is only one way of achieving this, and that is by knowing your status.

Ryan Haynes can be heard on Resonance FM, on Sundays, 8.30-9pm from September 30, 2007.

The first part of Stephen Fry: HIV and Me will be broadcast on BBC2 on Tuesday 2nd October.