What charming Netflix show Merlí is right about HIV and young men

What charming Netflix show Merlí is right about HIV and young men

As World AIDS Day approaches on December 1, the good news is the miracle of antiviral treatments and PrEP means fewer people are getting HIV or dying from the disease.

However, an estimated 1.5 million people worldwide will be infected with the virus this year, many of whom are unaware of their condition. Pockets of gay men around the world remain vulnerable.

The hit drama Merlion Netflix, addressed this issue in its final season, joining shows like It’s a sin, Angels in Americaand The real world with Pedro Zamora to shape our understanding of HIV.

The hit in Spanish by creator Hector Lozano tells the story of Pol Rubio (Carlos Cuevas), at the center of a group of Philosophy students and their teachers in a high school and a university in Barcelona. In five seasons, they agree to grow and age, through the lens of the Great Philosophers.

For idol Pol, in the final season, that means confronting the very real dangers that HIV still poses to sexually active men who have sex with men.

Here are three things Merli got the better of an HIV diagnosis, 40 years after the start of the AIDS epidemic…

1. Shock and horror

Pol is sexy and smart, someone all girls want to be with, and guys want to be like – and in. Merliit is universe, want to be with, too. He’s a gamer, and over the course of the series, he transitions from dating girls and a semi-relationship with his philosophy professor’s son to a more queer sexual identity, but on the DL. When he accepts his attraction to men, he learns from a one-night stand that he was exposed to HIV, a year and a half after the fact. He is certain that he is unaffected: he is basically straight and a top with other menand beyond the reach of a “gay plague”.

Spoiler alert: A pharmaceutical test reveals him to be positive, a nightmare scenario for the macho golden boy, who is almost certain to result in a death sentence.

2. Knowledge is power

Through the noise of his test result, Pol doesn’t hear the pharmacist’s assurances that HIV is manageable with treatment, and is wracked with guilt and shame. He hides the diagnosis from his family and friends, as well as from the young man at the university who will help him reconcile his masculinity with his sexual orientation. At the same time, he finds a job at a local gay cabaret, where the owner, who christened the chiseled Pol “Apollo”, feels the terror of the philosophy student and shares his own experience through life’s wars in as HIV positive. Gay man. It will be fine, he thrived with HIV for years. With this cross-generational connection, “Apollo” comes to sympathize with the men who came before him and begins to see his future more clearly. It’s bright and full of love.

3. PrEP is not the only precaution

Due to the very success of HIV treatment and prophylaxis options, some sexually active people have become content with the disease and its life-changing effects. Groups of men who have sex with men do not have access to information about PrEP. Pol became HIV-positive because he imagined he was immune to a virus that didn’t affect people like him. It is revealed that he did not use a condom during this encounter with a sexy fellow and was unaware of his partner’s status or history. The shock of his diagnosis is partly an acknowledgment of a lack of conscience. He must come out to his anxious working-class father and his friends. It also affects his relationship with a handsome older man he falls in love with: how can he be trusted after he puts himself in danger?

But over time and with support, Pol comes to forgive himself and recognize his new reality, with a new love that accepts him for who he is.

Accepting responsibility for his actions and his future is essential for Pol to accept living with HIV. The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day, “Testing Ourselves: Achieving Equity to End HIV”, reminds us that we all have a responsibility to help eliminate disparities and inequalities that create barriers to HIV testing, prevention and access to HIV care and making HIV something to commemorate.

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