Site icon

+TALK: IAN L. HADDOCK

How #PrEP inspired Ian L. Haddock to rethink his outlook on life…

Watch this all new episode of +Talk hosted by Karl Schmid right now!

Transcript below.

IAN
What PrEP actually did is it made me have hope again. In relationships, and love, and thinking about like what a life would be.

KARL
Hello there, welcome to Plus Talk on Plus Life where we’re all about turning positive into a plus. Today we’re talking prevention as treatment. PrEP. And my guest today is Ian L. Haddock, he’s in Houston. Hey Ian, good to see you.

IAN
Good to see you, good to see you. I’m so glad to be here.

KARL
Well I’m glad to have you here too and I wanna talk about PrEP today. You’re an HIV negative man. I know you’ve been in a sero-discordant relationship in the past, and we’ll get to that in a bit. For those who are wondering what sero-discordant is it’s when someone is HIV positive and their partner is HIV negative. But Ian, let’s talk about PrEP. How did you discover PrEP?

IAN
I came from sex work, actually. So I was originally a sex worker and I was trying to find ways that I could lower my risk of transmission of any STIs, to be quite honest. And so as I was getting acclimated to having conversations with my provider around like my sexual health he said like, “You would probably be the perfect person to get on PrEP”. Then I made a decision that it would be important for me as a person who did participate in a lot of, you know, sex.

KARL
Sex. You were having a lot of sex.

IAN
Absolutely. Absolutely. So I wasn’t you know, oftentimes when people talk about PrEP they’re like, “Yeah it’s not for people that are having a lot of sex” that it’s absolutely true. But in my case, I was absolutely having a lot of sex.

KARL
So I’m curious then, because my next question was sort of what was your relationship with sex before you went on PrEP? And you’ve kind of just answered that in a way by saying you were a sex worker. But you know, did going on PrEP and again this might be a bit of a moot point because you were in the industry, change your perception about HIV? What was your perception of HIV maybe we go back pre-sex work and then being able to have something like PrEP. How did that perhaps change, if at all?

IAN
Yeah so that’s a really, it’s actually a very powerful question I believe because I think for me and I believe sex work is work, but I believe for me sex work was almost a rebellion against this idea that I was predisposed to HIV as a black man, as a gay man. Right? I was predisposed to HIV, and so I found myself in sex work. I found myself in a lot of promiscuous and what people would consider risky situations because I didn’t have a belief, I didn’t have hope, that there was a chance that I wouldn’t get HIV.

KARL
So you kind of, sorry, so you kind of went into this going, “Well, look I’m a black man, I’m a gay man I’m having a lot of sex, it’s gonna happen”.

IAN
Absolutely.

KARL
“I’m gonna get it, so just enjoy my life and deal with it when it happens”. That’s a really interesting take on that.

IAN
Yeah, and so what PrEP actually did is it made me have hope again in relationships, and love, and thinking about like, what a life would be.

KARL
You talk about it gave you hope. I mean, how has being on PrEP changed your perception of being a black gay man?

IAN
It allows me to have the autonomy over my body and over my sex and my sexuality. It really reduces this idea, and it’s still something that bottles up inside me, but it reduces this idea that I am nasty, or I am, you know, that my queerness makes me bad, right? And it really allows me to explore my sexuality aside from my sex, right? It allows me to see what I like in people and to you know, think about like, all of the things that I didn’t get a chance to think about because I relegated my queerness to sex and my sex to HIV. And so now I get to experience people and experience love and friendships and connection. And I mean it really has just honestly, you know transformed how I see myself and how I see my queerness.

KARL
So as I mentioned at the top there you were in a sero-discordant relationship a while back. That’s ended since, but can we just talk about that for a minute? Were you on PrEP when you were in that relationship? And I’m presuming that your partner was on treatment and undetectable?

IAN
Yeah, so that was a really interesting situation. I met the guy and he almost immediately felt the need to disclose, even prior to us even having a conversation regarding sex. And I really empathize with that, you know I alluded to the fact that I was around HIV kind of really early on so I wasn’t ignorant about it, but I will tell you if I’m being completely transparent, in the back of my mind it’s like, “Oh, that’s science”. But I don’t know how that goes into the practical. I don’t know how that makes sense in practical application. And so as we were thinking about sex, my body was absolutely in it, but in the back of my mind I’m like “How much science works?” And that was one of the difficulties I found when we actually started thinking about our sexual relationship outside of our dating relationship.

KARL
So were you on PrEP while you were with him?

IAN
Yes, I was on PrEP the entire time I was with him.

KARL
Yeah, it’s an interesting conversation I guess because you know as someone myself who’s living with HIV I’m really diligent about taking my medicine because being undetectable that means I’m the healthiest I can be, and obviously being undetectable means I can’t transmit the virus to a partner. So I guess I’m sort of putting on your hat for a moment. I guess I want to know, you know, like “Is my partner telling a hundred percent truth? Like, is he really undetectable? Because, you know, I’ve also gotta protect myself”. Did did it ever cause, or was there ever a conversation where it might have caused a bit of friction between the two of you, like with him saying

IAN
No.

KARL
“Look I’m undetectable, you don’t need to be on PrEP”. And if so, how did you handle that conversation?

IAN
Yeah, he definitely at some point was like “You know you’re going with me to medical appointments you know my numbers, like why aren’t you comfortable with this idea?” And I said, “Well, I think that, you know, for me when I think about body autonomy, I think about protecting myself as you protect yourself,” right? So it’s not just about can I get, can he transmit HIV to me? It’s also what if I seroconverted? What if I cheated, right? Like, what if I made a mistake or what if I’m you know what if I have a new transmission right before I met you? Right? And it just hasn’t come up, and now we are in another predicament, so I think, and I’m processing the question as I’m listening to you because it’s a really powerful question. I think the other piece though is that if I felt empathy towards disclosure then I have to be clear that I still have to protect myself no matter what a person’s status is. And so I don’t like the criminalization and these disclosure laws. I think that they put the impetus on people living with HIV. And it’s not just their thing, it’s everyone’s thing. It’s everyone’s. Everyone should be responsible for their body. And so that’s what PrEP is for me and that’s what I had to really get him to understand. This is not against you, this is for myself.

KARL
Yeah I love that, and I think it’s so great that you’re sharing this message of sex positivity and you know as you said, it is so important that one has to take responsibility for themselves. You know, whether it’s choosing to be on PrEP if you’re in a sero-discordant relationship or not but you know, you’re taking responsibility. I totally agree with you. I mean, we can open Pandora’s box and talk about criminalization laws, which are stupid and ridiculous in my opinion, because at the end of the day it really, I mean it takes two to tango, right? Two for you to get it on. So if you know, you’ve both gotta be capable of having that conversation, it shouldn’t just be one sided. Okay, So I’ve got you for a few more seconds. I just wanna know overall, I mean PrEP it sounds like what you’re telling me, you being on PrEP you’ve really been able to sort of let go a lot and not just enjoy your sexuality and sex but actually get to embrace people without that sort of shadow hanging over you, right?

IAN
Yeah, yeah. I mean, when you hear a projection of one in two black gay men could get HIV it is absolutely crushing for a community of people. And that’s not even like considering you know one in four, you know, Latinx gay men, right? So like all of these intersections within myself. Like when you hear that, it’s crushing. It’s absolutely crushing, and so to have something that can, I mean it’s like birth control for men. Like to have that power for yourself, it has done it has been transformational.

KARL
Yeah and you know, I should say I read a stat the other day from hiv.gov that back in 2021 only 11% of black people who who are appropriate for PrEP men or women by the way, only 11% of that population were offered it. How does that make you feel when we talk about inequities and inequality when it comes to access to stuff like this?

IAN
Yeah I think, you know, I think it points to a lot of things. I’ve been pushing to have broader conversations around social determinants. Sometimes we say of health but I say of equity because oftentimes, like we’re not connecting this to larger things. What else do you do when you can do nothing else? If you have low employment and low literacy rates. If you have sex and you do drugs, right?

KARL
A hundred percent.

IAN
And there’s a lot of crime, right? And so it speaks to what we already know. And we can’t get out of this issue around PrEP or treatment until we really have a conversation about all of these other social determinants that make us predisposed to all kinds of disparities including health, economic, racial, and so on and so forth.

KARL
Yeah and look that’s an ongoing frustration and debate that, you know, I wish there was a quick fix to but it just seems in this country it all ties back to race and racism. And again, hey, that’s a whole other episode of Plus Talk. Ian L. Haddock, thank you so much for taking the time to chat and I really appreciate you being so open and honest and candid, and I loved all your positivity.

IAN
Thank you so much for having me.

KARL
That’s gonna do it for this episode of Plus Talk. If you want more information, check out the website pluslifemedia.com and be sure to look at our social media. We are @PlusLifeMedia. Until next time. Bye bye.

Exit mobile version