Poz&Proud, the gay men’s group within the Dutch HIV Association (HVN), was founded in 2006 with several aims: to give gay men the confidence to be open about being HIV positive, to raise the profile of HIV in the gay scene after advances in treatment allowed it to slip off the radar, to combat stigma, and to help people to talk about HIV calmly and rationally.
The need for this was highlighted in 2007, when we fell victim to a malicious whispering campaign intended to eject us from HVN. The dispute even reached the national media when the programme Netwerk broadcast false accusations that we were planning to organise parties for unsafe sex. However, an investigation by HVN cleared Poz&Proud of all the accusations, allowing us to get started with our work.
Poz&Proud organises regular social gatherings and information meetings to help break the taboo surrounding HIV. Our information meetings cover a host of subjects that are of interest not just to positive gay men, but also to gay men in general. In the past we have looked at serosorting, hepatitis C, AIN and anal cancer, serodiscordant relationships and growing older with HIV. We also run the workshop series Positive Minds, which introduces gay men to Mindfulness as a way of reducing stress and thereby promoting better health.
Our social activities include the monthly get-together CD4 (Chat&Drinks@4) at the Amsterdam gay bar Prik and our three-monthly brunch held at HVN’s premises. Every September we organise the weekend retreat Mankracht in Orvelte, Drente. Partly informative and partly social, this weekend has long been attracting participants from all over the country, all of whom value it highly.
More generally, Poz&Proud lobbies for gay men with HIV and has developed a valuable dialogue over the years with all of the parties involved in dealing with HIV. For instance, we have helped put hepatitis C, anal screening and lipodystrophy on the agenda of HIV treatment centres and academics, and major advances have been made in these areas.
Poz&Proud is run by a core group that meets once a month, assisted by more than 20 volunteers who help carry out our activities. We communicate through this website and our newsletter, which you can register for by clicking here.
We are urgently looking for new members to expand the Poz&Proud core group: gay men with HIV who have drive, vision, enthusiasm and passion for our cause. If you are interested please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get in touch with you.
Besides organising activities for gay men with HIV and carrying out lobbying activities, we have also issued various publications documenting our work. These publications are a source of great pride to us:
25+. Vijfentwintig jaar hiv en aids in de Nederlandse homoscene (twenty five years of HIV and Aids in the Dutch gay scene), Poz&Proud, Amsterdam 2007.
Leo Schenk, Ton Stevens. Bringing sexy back into grassroots advocacy for HIV-positive gay men in the Netherlands. Claiming (sexual) rights, regaining lost territory.Poster presentation for the 18th International Aids Conference. Vienna 2010.
Nic Wilson, Growing old (un)gracefully. Aging HIV-positive gay men and their struggle to retain identity and dignity. Poster presentation for the 18th International Aids Conference. Vienna 2010.
Alexander Pastoors, GIPA 2.0, Towards better understanding of the needs and comprehensive involvement of HIV-positive gay men (HPGM) in the 21st century: a Dutch example. Poster presentation for the 18th International Aids Conference. Vienna 2010.
Leo Schenk and Gurmit Singh, Bringing sexy back into gay men’s community empowerment for HIV prevention, care and support: The Poz & Proud approach. Digital Culture and Education, Volume 4, Issue 1. 2012.