The HIV Infected Elephant in the Room
As one of the single guys posting on Cypher Ave, I can unfortunately say that I can’t remember the last time I was asked or I asked another person: “What’s your status?”
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t whore around a lot (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But on the occasional instance that I meet someone new (or I have a lapse in sanity and text an Ex) and we do our little dance, the question never comes up. That’s a shame.
In a day and age where HIV infection is still at an epidemic rate for African American gay men, many of us don’t ask those three simple words. “What’s your status?”
My reason: I just assume everyone is HIV positive whether they deny it or not. So I make sure I protect myself at all times…Somewhat. LOL. Okay, I’ll be honest, with certain guys I tend to “experiment” more than with others. Dangerous experimentation, at that. But only after a certain level of “trust” has been obtained.
But that experimentation is STILL hazardous because 99% of the HIV positive gay men that I’ve spoken with have all told me that they got HIV while in a relationship with a philandering partner that they “trusted”.
On top of that, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t occasionally fall for the idiotic “he looks healthy” mentality that fills many people with regret in hindsight. Especially if he is masculine and discreet.
Whether its a “hookup” or someone I’m actually interested in, we both just assume that the other person is healthy. Oh, we still perform the theatrics of using condoms and capfulls of mouthwash afterwards (the deluded oral sex morning after pill). But at the end of the day, the words are not spoken.
There was even one guy I met that was attractive, funny, affable, intelligent, employed, lived alone, etc…I really was diggin the dude…but then he wanted to have bareback sex on our first time. Dammit if I wasn’t tempted (naked, in the heat of the moment) to just say, “Fuck it” and go raw…But the “good angel” on my shoulder yelled the loudest and I resisted the temptation. When I denied and asked if he had raw sex often, he replied, “yeah sometimes.” Suffice it to say, that was the last I heard from him so I dodged a bullet there.
Fortunately, I’ve never had a sexually transmitted disease. However, I know that in addition to making some decent choices in sexual partners, I’ve just been plain lucky. But everyone’s luck runs out eventually. So this brings us back to the original dilemma: Why don’t more of us ask The Question?
I think there are two answers to this:
- We’re afraid the other person might actually say, “Yes, I’m HIV positive.” Then that would put us in the awkward position of having to either be cool with it or to disappear and never respond to that person’s texts and calls ever again.
- We think we’re invincible. There is honestly that feeling that bad things happen to other people, not ourselves. We’re actually temporarily surprised when misfortune befalls us.
There are a couple other possible answers as well, HIV is not the “death sentence” as it once was so many people may possibly fear it less now…Lastly, many gay men are just horny mindless whores, uncaring of contracting sexually transmitted diseases until after it actually happens.
My money’s on the latter. But at the end of the day, we all make choices that we have to live with, good or bad.
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