This article was published on June 5th, 2013
When most parents find out their child is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, their first reaction is usually emotional, followed by causes for concern. It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children from harm. But their #1 fear when their child comes out is almost always HIV/AIDS.
It can take a child weeks, months, or even years, to muster up the courage to come out. During that time, the child has asked themselves a lot of questions, to make sure that it’s the right thing for them to do. It’s a calculated risk, and not a conversation that is just brought up in casual conversation is most cases.
In the case of parents of gay sons, after they get over their initial emotional reaction of the new information, their thoughts tend to immediately fall towards one of the perceived #1 issues for gay men; HIV/AIDS. Even in recent blog posts with both my mom and my dad, they both admit that their major fears included HIV/AIDS.
It’s a legitimate concern; since the mid 1980’s, HIV/AIDS has had the highest infection rate between gay men. However, HIV/AIDS is not a disease limited to gay men.
For the past three decades there has been significant awareness and education programs targeted to reduce the spread and infection rates amongst the gay community. HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through a number of other ways including heterosexual sex, intravenous drug use, and blood transfusions, just to name a few.
Today, most gay youth and men understand the importance of practicing safer sex. It’s the way today’s generation is educated in school, online, and through social experiences. Condoms are readily available through community outreach programs, drug stores, and at many night clubs and bars. Condoms and sex are no longer taboo topics; it’s part of being a mature, sexually responsible individual.
While most individuals would prefer to remain HIV negative throughout their life, should they contract the virus, it’s no longer an immediate death sentence. A vast amount of research has been done over the past three decades, since the world epidemic was announced, and new drugs and treatments are being used with great success. Many men living with HIV/AIDS today lead very normal, healthy, active lifestyles.
Parents, when your child comes out to you, be there to support them on their journey. They will be scared, nervous, and be looking for your strength and encouragement. Reassure them of your unconditional love. The news may be shocking, difficult, or expected, but don’t immediately worry that your child being gay means that they will get HIV/AIDS and die. Those days are in the past. Embark on an education journey with your son to both learn about ways of practicing safer sex and the real facts and statistics on HIV/AIDS. You’ll be glad you did!
If you have questions about HIV/AIDS, visit the Positive Living Society of BC website. You can also make a financial contribution today to help them with their fundraising goal for the Scotiabank Half Marathon this June.