Perhaps HIV stigma is a bad business model?
After espousing some truly stigmatizing rhetoric about people with HIV in an interview with INTO in August, the CEO of DaddyBear, an app for sugar babies and sugar daddies, is walking back his comments.
“No one would like to date people living with HIV unless he is living with it,” the CEO told INTO in an August email. “Most gay sugar daddies are not living with HIV, so they don’t want to bring home any unwanted souvenirs.”
In a statement emailed to INTO, the DaddyBear CEO saw the err of his ways after the negative press he and his app received which is when he decided to write a “sincere apology.”
“In the end, we want you to know that DaddyBear is a great gay dating app for gay sugar daddies, gay sugar babies and all gay men,” the apology reads. “Sorry, all guys.”
In the apology letter, the CEO, named only as Justin, says that his attitude towards HIV comes from the fact that his former partner was diagnosed with HIV after someone transmitted it to with “malicious intent.”
However, given that just yesterday, Michael Johnson was just given 10 years in prison for HIV exposure in Missouri, Justin’s “malicious intent” story is, itself, stigmatizing. Propagating the idea that there are HIV-positive people out there recklessly infecting others ultimately makes it harder for all HIV-positive people to be judged fairly in front of the law.
Rather than taking any onus for furthering HIV stigma, Justin has decided to shoulder the blame on HIV-positive people again this time, to this mythical HIV-positive third party. Unfortunately, this continues a dangerous tradition in America of shouldering HIV-positive people with the responsibility of public health.
The open letter also acknowledges that HIV-positive people on medication “highly” prevents HIV transmission. A growing medical consensus would go further: more and more people are waking up to the fact that undetectable equals untransmittable when it comes to the virus.
The CEO also expressly thanked Mark King, whose blog My Fabulous Disease picked up the story based on INTO’s reporting. According to the apology, the anger of his ex’s diagnosis “[led] him to wrongly misjudge the present situation and make an immature decision to build a gay dating app that doesn’t allow gay men living with HIV.”
In the end, Justin thanks “all the writers” who criticized his stigmatizing ways. On that note, to take a writerly aside you’re welcome! But, you’ve still got a long way to go