FB User: Hey. Just saw your share of the ‘dating guys with HIV’ thing ….
Greg Owen: Yeah
FB User: Was nice to see something on fb about it. Hope u don’t mind me messaging u?
Greg Owen: No, not at all. Glad it gave something to u
FB User: Well it gave me more confidence as I’ve just been diagnosed
Greg Owen: Ok. I’m glad it gave you something that you probably well needed, especially at this time. I’m neg (well, last test was – been a year so let’s say ‘prob neg’) but having had a long term partner (7years) diagnosed as poz and go through that whole process with him….it DOES get better and easier. TRUST ME…it does. And the scene is slowly changing but defo changing how it views and treats it’s poz members. Xxx. It will soon hardly be even a thing for you x
FB User: Thanks … means a lot … I’m fine with the whole day to day thing it’s the physical contact I’m a lil edgy about
FB User: I’ve just kinda started dating a guy and it’s a bit weird
Greg Owen: I know. It will be. I understand that. It gets easier when you’ve been on your meds and are non detectable. It will put your mind and anxiety at ease. And your partner can get prep too. Lots of options out there
FB User: I’m going for my results tomorrow for the bloods
Greg Owen: Ok so you really have been JUST been diagnosed. Well – lemme know how your bloods go
FB User: Yea 2 weeks ago … first week was hell I was all over the place ….
FB User: I’m ok now tho … unless I’m drunk or feeling down and I get proper mood swings
Greg Owen: Ok well lemme know how your bloods go, you can go through to undetectable in as little as 3 months, depending on several factors. Glad that youre feeling better, the first 48 hours from what I remember are fucking hell. But steady yourself a bit, it does come in waves. So remember how ‘ok’ you’re feeling now so when the next wave of ‘shitty moods’ kicks in – you know you’ll get back to here again. And a little heads up – just to give you as much of my experience that might help you…. A lot of my friends and also my ex…had like a ‘2 stage wobble’ – call it a double dip freak out – lol. For a lot of my friends it came about 6-12 months down the line when things had settled down
FB User: Awe thanks dude ….. what u mean about that ??
Greg Owen: After the shock factor subsided…then they had a kind of more base level emotional response. Don’t panic about it
FB User: Oh ok … tbh the nurse was super shocked by my reaction when she told me
Greg Owen: It doesn’t happen to everyone and everyone is different…if it does happen though, just remember, it’s normal and all part of the process of getting back to a normal you – emotionally and mentally x
FB User: Good J glad it’s getting better tho … I realise that the meds are better now too
Greg Owen: Oh god yeah, so much better, less toxicity, less side effects, better long term manageability. You’re in a good place! Let’s just hope us ‘people’ make as many advances in our attitudes towards HIV now too
FB User: Good thanks for this chat tho …. I can’t really talk to many ppl bout it
Greg Owen: I know, I know. I think that was the worst bit for my ex but more so for me… I was meant to be the one holding it together for both of us and I couldn’t speak to anyone. It was a very rough time
FB User: Was u with him when he caught it?
Greg Owen: Here’s my story
Greg Owen: But yes..I was, it totally broke my heart in a way that I still can not really put into words almost 2.5 years later. BTW – feel free to drop a message when ever
FB User: Awe thanks x
Greg Owen: And my Equals=Equals page will be up and filled soon
FB User: Means a lot I can talk to someone with the experience x
Equals=equals the HIV Anti-Stigma Campaign
HIV POZ or HIV NEG = EQUALS
No problem buddy, keep your chin up and relax – you’ll be fine and try to enjoy the sex! lol
FB User: Haha
Greg Owen: It takes time but THAT is important too
FB User: On that subject ….
Greg Owen: Yes? Lol
FB User: What can I do safely?
Greg Owen: I feel like Denise from This Morning
FB User: Lmao
Greg Owen: Honestly…right now, if you have just contracted the virus…your viral load will be high, very high, strangely for some people its not but they are a small, small minority so just be safe – as safe as you can. There is less risk of passing it on through oral
FB User: Giving and receiving ??
Greg Owen: Less chance of passing it on if you bottom. Giving oral is totally safe – ‘totally’ but use your common sense lol – if you’ve just had 5 teeth out and he has torn of the end of his penis…then ‘totally’ is the wrong word. Lol! It’s not a ‘set list’ that can be reeled off. It is always very situation specific and calls into account lots of different variables.
FB User: Haha
Greg Owen: Best thing to do would be to see what your bloods say and establish with your clinic when you are going to start meds
FB User: Ok cool
Greg Owen: Although I’m pretty sure they have revised they policy now and if you request the meds immediately they will give them to you but go ask all those questions and get all your own stats and levels and holler when you have them and we can chat from a more informed place. Also to answer your earlier question and if you don’t mind these questions…
Do you top?
Your answers are totally without judgement btw – just trying to get an overview to best answer that question for you if I can.
FB User: Ok
FB User: Will do
Greg Owen: Just trying to figure out if its worth discussing with your partner about himm attending the clinic and requesting prep
FB User: Tomorrow I’m going to get them
Greg Owen: There are conditions on it though
FB User: I’m bottom and DID prefer BB…
Greg Owen: Your partner will have to have a HIV test that returns a neg result
FB User: I’ve not slept with him yet and I won’t for a while.
FB User: But I’ve told the guys I have slept with
Greg Owen: And usually (I think but I’m not sure) he will have to be clear of the window period too. Oh I wasn’t asking you those sex questions for that reason. Listen – exonerate yourself from those ties of responsibility everyone’s sexual health is their own responsibility. Its commendable that you did that – in fact rare these days I’m impressed
FB User: At what?
Greg Owen: That you told the people you’d slept with
FB User: Oh well yea I respect them and would want them to be safe and get checked out
Greg Owen: Trust me – rare thing these days and its very sweet that you did.
Ok, I’m getting told off by my bro and sis as I’m banging away on my keyboard and they wanna watch a film…bloody family visits…piss me off
FB User: I’m a nice guy …..
FB User: Haha
FB User: Ok thanks for talking to me bout it … very much appreciated
FB User: I will let u know tomorrow about the appointment.
Greg Owen: My Pleasure! Holler if you need to – I’ll reply via the ‘silent iPhone’ after the movie they’re busting their asses to watch
FB User: Haha ok tongue emoticon I’ll be up for a while tonight too
Greg Owen: Some of my friends have started using the tag “Captain HIV” but said as a word – not h.i.v but hiv like ‘live’!
Funny bastards – lol, NOT! Oh – and those are the positive ones – liberties!!!
FB User: Lol
Greg Owen: Laters
FB User: Ok J
30 June 23:54
FB User: Hey … u ok
Greg Owen: Was starting a message to check how your bloods came back? And how the treatment/counselling/meds/sex with the new guy situations are looking? X
1 July 08:34
FB User: Haha it’s ok! I have missed the nurse every time I’ve tried to call them… and they are shut today… I’m gonna have to call them tomorrow…. x
FB User: Hey got my bloods back
Greg Owen: Just in a work meeting. Message you when I’m done. x
FB User: Okay x
Greg Owen: Hey! Sorry only just got 5mins to myself… calmer day tomorrow holler when you’re free
FB User: Hey
Greg Owen: Hey, I’m off to sleep now til about 12-1pm I’ll shout then x
FB User: Okay lol x
Greg Owen: So… How were your results?
FB User: Cd4 of 340
2 hours ago
Greg Owen: Hey there, missed that last message somehow. Brain drain!
FB User: Hey Greg 🙂
Greg Owen: Sorry for my shitty reply delays
FB User: It’s ok
Greg Owen: I’ve been crazy busy
FB User: Cool cool
Greg Owen: I read this at a forum tonight
FB User: What?
Greg Owen: I’ve copied and pasted the final (ish) draft for you below…
Hey guys – thank you for having me tonight apologies for running late with the strike and having to dash off early for work. Here is the final version of the words that I delivered this evening. Including audience instigated ad libs!!! LOL It’s punctuated and laid out in the form I use to make it easier for me to read. Hope it flows Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs – BODIES London – the city where muscle, ripped, VGL, hung, bisexual and straight are the currency and start up traders or those with low stock value in the above are quick to fall foul of its sexual politics and cut throat heartlessness. These labels are flung around regularly with a seemingly blissful lack of awareness on the users part – of the base level, negative impact such apparently acceptable sexual attacks – no sorry – ‘textual attacks’ cause and the underlying erosion of self-worth that they actively generate. And in most causes the recipient to revisit any previous, now dormant past abuse. It is most without question, certainly compounding any existing hang-ups those receiving said attacks have – we’re talking about other gay men here! Gay men who lets face it, might fix up in the latter part of their teens and early 20’s with maybe…a set of veneers – yes my front 6 teeth are made out of the same stuff as your Nan’s best china – that’s porcelain you’re looking at now. And those same gay men may have done a course of steroids or 8 – yes that’s ‘all gone on’ right here over the last 10 years – you wouldn’t think it to look at me now though, I’ve been slacking lately and not been to the gym in over a year. And before one of you thinks it or says it – yes “I woke up like this” or as is usually the case with me “I never went to bed” – “like this” There are a few of you in here tonight that know me – that happens! Now that I’ve outted myself – apart from the 1 Botox treatment about 3 years ago – that is all of my fixing up – fessed up. Apart from – I dye my eyebrows and eyelashes in the summer because as a blond Irish guy – after a few days in the sun they disappear and rocking the “Chemo Chic” look is not a good look. Yes! I went there! But that really is it now. Back to my point. Those comments and thinly guised ‘textual attacks’ within our own community which – is fundamentally a community consisting of grown up and fixed up, bullied school boys, that are now living the grown up and seemingly acceptable 2015 version of bullying – totally acceptable online but ask yourself this – as in most online versus real life comparisons… would you really behave like that face to face? If you were in a bar or club or cafe actually chatting with another guy? Here’s how those things would sound if they were they real life conversations… Muscle only – You’re fat and out of shape and you really need to go to the gym Ripped only – I mean have you ever seen the inside of a gym? Carbs are not your friend Very Good Looking only – I’m totally up my own arse and only ‘up-date’ Into hung only – I’m a ‘bottomless bottom’ That is not an admission! Or a confession by the way! It’s in keeping with the rest of the examples! Like I said there are some of in here that know me – not that well! Anyway – and will most likely be thinking I should have held out a bit longer for a bigger guy than you. Into bisexual or straight only – This really is how out there gay men can be sometimes – “I only sleep with or date straight guys”…if you are dating or screwing him is he actually ‘straight’? Come on! And can someone please gift that gay a fucking dictionary! These are observations not judgments. To judge would contradict the point I’m trying to make. I know I’ve slightly exaggerated those statement for the purpose of the exercise but is it really that far from the truth? If you even vocalized anything of those things at 20 percent of that abruptness then I’m pretty sure you would qualify as a sociopath? No? So why do we do it? Why also is there the need for the ‘not into’ information that guys like to push on a profile? This is pretty much exclusively reserved for the fems, the twinks, the chubs, the Asians, the Blacks, the gingers and the poz guys. Leading me on to HIV. Surely there is some sort of cause and effect here? Most of my positive mates picked up the virus while on some sort of life spin out – not all of them but a substantial proportion. I can’t help feeling that the general endemic use of such broadcasts – although perhaps unintentional is unfathomably unacceptable and regularly erodes say 50% of this community’s self worth be that consciously or subconsciously. And it has to manifest itself somewhere at some point down the line. And it does! Often with a vengeance and at a hefty cost. Maybe its time we all took as much responsibility for our words online as we would when face to face with another person of the same sexual preference. Who has already faced enough hatred for being ‘different’ in his life up to now from those that are different. Let’s not make him face it all over again from those that are the same. Instead broadcast and post what you celebrate and what you are ‘into’ not ‘not into’ – It will play its small part in changing the future we can hopefully enjoy in a supposedly equal Western World. If straight people have shown their support for us being given the right to live as equals can’t we at least match that as a gift to each other and allow ourselves and all the other gays to be equals – consciously, actively, and freely. You can decide for yourself with your own actions the next time you’re online. I’ve just talked about gay sex and drugs – BODIES!!! See you all on Grindr boys!
FB User: Omg that’s long lol
Greg Owen: So cd4 of 350 or lower usual means starting treatment. What’s your viral load like?
FB User: That speech was good J
FB User: Funny
FB User: But good funny
FB User: Viral load I’m guessing u mean cd4? Mine is 340
FB User: What that mean ??
Greg Owen: See copy and paste
“CD4 count is a measure of immune function. By measuring someone’s CD4 levels you can see how HIV has affected their immune system, showing the progression of the virus. Most people in the UK start treatment when their CD4 count is at 350. Viral load measures how active HIV is in someone’s body. The higher the viral load the more infectious someone would be. Effective HIV medication can keep people’s CD4 count high and their viral load so low it is undetectable. However people with HIV’s CD4 count and viral load can go up and down depending on their medication, whether they have another STI and their general health.”
Its more something you’ll pay attention to once you are on meds…once it falls below a certain level – you are ‘undetectable’ and it’s then almost impossible for you to pass the virus on
FB User: I see I gotta go back in two weeks for a 3rd blood test to see if it goes down more
Greg Owen: I’m just mentioning it to you as you asked a few questions about keeping other people safe a few weeks ago
FB User: Yeah
Greg Owen: Yes – That’s quite normal
FB User: Okay good – the two guys are freaking out atm
Greg Owen: Also – I’m pretty sure that regardless of your levels that if you actually request to start treatment now then they are obliged to allow you access to treatment – though that was only changed recently
FB User: Oh cool okay
FB User: Is it best to ?
Greg Owen: There was a time when they made you wait for 2 years and there are several different schools of thought and set ups that they advise now – depending on the person
FB User: What u mean ?
Greg Owen: But ask when you go back in 3 weeks – will be good for you to get a bit of an overview as to what type of treatment they are considering as there are several factors – and honestly I’m not up to speed on them so don’t feel well versed or confident in advising you on that – lol. I might know my stuff but there are bits I’m not fully up to speed on yet. But that will all change in the next month or so.
FB User: How come?
Greg Owen: I’m going to make a point of being up to speed on those fact
FB User: U have been great tho
Greg Owen: Thank you. Simply – the way I understand it is – the sooner you go on meds the sooner you become undetectable. That’s important for some guys
FB User: Tbh my sex drive has gone out the window
Greg Owen: I had a friend that was advised to wait a while to begin his meds but he is a bit highly strung and hyper anyway and he just couldn’t handle the thought of that option! He wanted it ‘taken care of’ in his words – straight away
FB User: Kinda like me
Greg Owen: I guess for some people they see undetectable as the starting point of winning again and kind of important if you bareback a lot too
FB User: I don’t that’s the thing
Greg Owen: There is no right or wrong. It’s different for every single person. ‘Undetectable” and is a label/status that gets thrown around here in London a lot and asked often
FB User: Soooo – If I’m undetectable…
Greg Owen: Yes?
FB User: If for arguments sake I got very drunk and wasn’t really aware …. and the guy bb’d me…He would be safe?
Greg Owen: No – not really if your viral load is high it means that the virus is still in huge numbers and very active in your system – this is what makes it easier to pass on
Greg Owen: Thats why ‘neg’ guys that are actually ‘poz, but don’t know it are the most likely to pass it on cus their viral load is high – really high after it enters the body and they aren’t on meds cus they don’t know… so they are passing it on
FB User: I meant when I’m undetectable
Greg Owen: Oh yes, when you’re undetectable! Likely he would be safe in that situation. Please don’t quote these actual words but very difficult to nearly impossible to pass it on esp if you were only bottom
FB User: Okay I get u
Greg Owen: But there is always that little tiny single figure percentage there, there is PREP though – available to the partners of poz guys, right now and soon to all gay men (hopefully) That makes it impossible for you to pass it on if you are detectable and he’s on PREP -providing you stick to the rules and do the meds as you should
FB User: Rules ?
Greg Owen: Just don’t miss your meds
FB User: Yea
Greg Owen: Your viral load spikes again after about 3 days and spikes up past the point of undetectable
FB User: I’d need to get into a rhythm
Greg Owen: You will then become ‘detectable’ and able to pass it on again. You’ll find the rhythm soon enough once they set your meds program they will give you that info when you start. But bear in mind – this isn’t for you but as reference…HEP C is still a risk. It gets no press currently – well not compared to HIV. And it’s much more contagious
FB User: What’s hep c?
Greg Owen: Hepatitis C…but I hear the now have a functional cure for that too
FB User: I’m supposed to be getting a jab for something.
Greg Owen: Not sure what that jab is for but do let me know. Knowledge is power! BTW – I hope you’re remembering all of this so you can spread the love and offer the ‘Facebook introduction to your HIV’ LOL to the newly diagnosed guy that hits YOU up about it lol J haha
FB User: Um that’s something I won’t be airing not yet anyway. LOL
Greg Owen: Nor would I expect you to! All in your own time and in your own way and on your own terms. It took a lot of deliberating and anxiety from me before I took the leap to associate myself so publicly with HIV – especially as a negative person. People thought I was nuts! Didn’t happen overnight though took a good 18-24 months for me to take the leap I guess
FB User: Yea I don’t mind doing what u done… but my health is very private and I don’t tell many ppl anything I’m such a private person …. I guess I thought I could talk to u because of what I’ve read on your profile xx
Greg Owen: I’m more than happy chatting to you for several reasons…
1st…You are actually teaching me too as we go along
2nd…Props to you for having the balls to message a random a guy on here and ask for some advice – that’s impressive and a lot of people don’t reach out at the point when you did which ironically is when they need to most
FB User: Maybe because I’d already accepted it….and got on with it
Greg Owen: Yes – you have impressed me! Although you ask questions…you do seem to have gotten a handle on your shit pretty quickly there and you are the inspiration or at least these extended messages have confirmed for me the next level/step for my HIV Campaign…
FB User: I like to be the one in control of my life J…Not let anyone or any poxy virus get the better of me tongue emoticon
Greg Owen: Well that’s certainly a great mind set to have some people just don’t work like that and that’s ok for them – everyone is different and need to find their own journey
FB User: I have another condition which the docs can’t figure out exactly what it is ….. but I’ve adapted to control it J they think it’s acute pancreatitis… had it 12 years… and be fucked if I let that beat me lol… I learnt from a young age to take the bull by the horns – it’s how I built my confidence J
Greg Owen: – I learned the very same thing…though through a different lesson. But perhaps that process has prepared you for this and allowed you to take control of it quickly – see! There is another example of even ‘shit’ things eventually coming in useful for you if you listen to the universe and allow yourself to learn the lesson that is hidden in everything. Cliché but – there is an ‘ADVANTAGE’ in every ‘dis-ADVANTAGE’ – clever if just a little bit clichéd
FB User: Yup 🙂
Greg Owen: Right listen, I’m glad your head is screwed on. I’m shattered from a very long and nerve racking day
FB User: Okies
Greg Owen: I need to compose a piece of marketing text for release tomorrow evening
FB User: Okay….Thanks for being there and listening and giving me advice 🙂 xx
Greg Owen: Keep me updated. I might be a bit late in getting back to you until after 19th July as my club night launches then. But if it’s urgent – tell me and I’ll shout soon as I get 5 mins to message
FB User: Club night ??
Greg Owen: I’ll send you the link SEND EVENT LINK
FB User: Oh cool my b day is 17th. Maybe I’ll pop over and visit …. and put a face to the name
Greg Owen: My face is all over facebook – I’m sure people are sick of me popping up on their fed 2-3 times a day! But you are more than welcome to come on my guestlist
FB User: U don’t pop up on mine lol … but u know what I mean
Greg Owen: I’m celebrating my birthday at the event too
FB User: Awe cool
Greg Owen: Charming! I thought I was ‘facebook famous’ – obvs not lol
FB User: Haha sorry…oooops lol :-)… awkward…..
Greg Owen: lol
FB User: Tag me in a few things if u like tounge
Greg Owen: You’re forgiven – You’re one of the lucky ones that hasn’t been forced to hit ‘unfollow’ haha. Of course I’ll tag you – I’ll keep them to my club events and any random shit I post
FB User: Haha
Greg Owen: Ok, I’m off.