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October 16, 2012

A Chilling Trend

I was sharing a trend I been noticing with a friend who works on the front lines of HIV today. Actually this person is one of the first people that someone meets shortly after they learn they are HIV positive. I wouldn’t want her job.

I mentioned that I’ve seen a dramatic shift in safer sexual behavior over the last couple of years. This behavior seems to be prevalent among younger guys. The thing that bothers me is that these younger guys so want to bareback without any conversation on HIV status. They are negative and seem to think that they’ll stay negative without much thought.

I completely understand the urge to fuck raw. It’s primal. It’s intimate. It’s how sex is supposed to be. Yet, it’s also dangerous.

I came out at the time when death and disease were around me everywhere. Some of those images from that time are seared into my memories. That’s also why I find this current behavior so disturbing. These young guys don’t have any memory of how bad things were. That lack of memory coupled with the youthful feeling of indestructibility is a potentially lethal combination.

So my health care friend tells me that she’s seeing many more 20 somethings seroconverting. She relayed a conversation she recently had with a kid who recently turned 21. Not only is he newly positive, but the virus he has is already resistant to 2 classes of HIV drugs – not a pretty picture.

Part of the issue is also due to many guys not really knowing their status or knowing that they’re positive, but deciding not to take any meds or not being consistent with meds. As a result, they’re seeing more newly infected guys with resistant strains.

My friend did tell me of a new helpful development. The clinic where she works is actively prescribing Truvada as a preventative. The drug is used along with lab tests and extensive counseling. They’re noticing that it is making a difference. Of course, I wouldn’t want to rely on a prophylaxis completely, but it’s a lot better that doing nothing.

I’m as sex positive as they come. Our sexuality is a wonderful part of the human experience and is profound on so many levels. Yet I also find it important to remember that we all must take responsibility for the ways in which we engage in sexual activity.

I don’t want any generation to have to witness what happened in the queer community 30 years ago. I know condoms are a pain, but they do save lives.

No one is invincible.

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