Through The Mirror, the Other Side of Unprotected Sex

Discussion in 'The Healthy Penis' started by Bbucko, Jul 15, 2007.

  1. Bbucko

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    I understand that every community has its standards and orthodoxy and heretics, whether on-line or flesh-and-blood. LPSG, like every other community, has its standards and I appreciate them. I have no wish to upset anybody, nor am I a troll at all.

    I’m a 47-year old man who has lived with HIV, in one way or another, since the first news of the “gay cancer” broke in 1981, when I was 21. By then I’d already been sexually active (and adventurous) for four years and was almost certainly already infected. I saw friends, tricks, boyfriends and lovers drop around me like flies right up until 1996 and the age of Protease Inhibitors, when the deaths slowed (but never actually stopped). I stopped counting my losses at 60, that milestone occurring in the early-90s.

    No one needs to remind me what a scourge HIV/AIDS is to society or mankind in general. I’ve been on the front lines of the pandemic practically all my adult life. The virus has changed my life in ways most here could never imagine, and living with the constant adjustments and compromises (ranging from the crushing blow of burying a partner to seeing my finances collapse) has altered my perceptions on a fundamental level.

    My own health has been very precarious at times, although I’m fine at this moment. I have flat-lined twice. In addition to HIV, I live with chronic pain brought on by years of damage to my arthritic neck. Every day is a challenge to be lived as completely as possible for me, because I understand how fragile everything is very well.

    Three years ago I ended a nine-year relationship that was sexless and highly dysfunctional (for many reasons, HIV included but not principally among them). When I first came back to the dating scene I was very confused by the mixed signals and disparate messages regarding what is probably best described as the “new gay sexual paradigm”. I met HIV poz guys who were re-writing the rules I’d lived with since the 80s. I began a quest for research that eventually led me to AIDSmeds.com, an on-line support community owned and operated (at the time) by HIV poz individuals.

    The thing that appealed to me most was the rigorous scientific approach to debate regarding all information regarding living with the virus. There is so much emotionalism within the HIV dialog which, as understandable as it is, can cloud rational discussions about a broad range of issues, most especially sex.

    Sex is extremely difficult for many HIV poz individuals to discuss because of the stigma attached both to the virus and the ‘risky’ practices required for its transmission. The guilt that pervades so many of us living with HIV has rendered many with fear and loathing regarding the entire topic. I personally had been caught in the same pattern of thinking.

    But I’ve always maintained the libido is the emotional overlay on our most basic instinct: that of reproduction. Even if gay sexuality never leads to reproduction, it comes from what is essentially the same place in our brains, and as such hold tremendous power over our lives.

    There are many reasons why poz guys engage in unprotected sex with each other. Some yearn for a sense of intimacy they only find that way, others are looking for adventure that is deemed “forbidden”. The actual science of Superinfection/Reinfection remains sketchy, with fewer than ten documented cases among the hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV in Europe and the US (where we are perhaps the most monitored medical group ever in existence). Given the huge numbers of people and encounters, a problem would have made itself more obvious by now, in the opinion of many.

    So we have a mirror-image to HIV prevention efforts: those already having lived long-term with the virus are practicing Serosorting (ie: only having sex with other pozfolk). This is one of the best ways (short of total abstinence) to prevent the transmission of the virus to the negative community. I am a staunch believer of such practices and follow it in my life without exception.

    Let me also state here that I am not advocating that anyone do anything that makes them uncomfortable or puts them at risk for contacting HIV. I have put far too many years into preaching the prevention message to do otherwise. Likewise, I am not an HIV minimizer nor a denialist. Many of the newly-infected are given hope through what is called “HIV-Lite”, where you take your meds everyday and live an otherwise unaffected life. I have suffered too many side-effects for too many years to believe such fairy tales.

    There is an argument that unprotected sex breeds STD-superbugs untreatable by regular anti-biotics. I have friends who have spent weeks on IV drips for such things. I know they exist. I myself had two UTIs last summer that were painful and nasty to treat. It slowed me way down after a hedonistic summer last year.

    I am by no means a sociopath. I simply choose to live whatever is left of my life on my own terms. My ethics dictate how to balance things, and most of the time I do just fine. When I fuck up, it’s I who suffers the brunt of the injury.

    But is there room for honestly and frankly discussing how I feel about sex and sexuality without constantly devolving into a flame-war or upsetting the community standards of LPSG?
     
  2. biguy2738

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    Bbucko, you are entitled to share your experiences, opinions and feelings as openly, honestly and frankly as you choose to...you most certainly are not a troll, and yes, you may on occasion experience "flame-throwers"...but you will also encounter supporters.

    I, for one may not always support what you have to say (I am not bringing this thread into account when I say this - I am making a general statement about future posts) but it won't make me respect you any less or make me regret your decision to join this site.

    In the short space of time that you have been here, you have proven to be nothing less than a valuable and respectable member and I am grateful for the generosity of your posts, as well as the generosity of yourself that lies within them.

    I do not have enough information or even practical experience (living with such a dreaded disease) to dare comment on the practice. I however am able to affirm you for the consideration and respect with which you approach HIV negative people. I don't think that you come anywhere close to being a sociopath.

    The mere fact that the greater part of your adult life has been scourged with such a dreaded killer pains me greatly, I cannot begin to imagine what everything that you have witness and experienced yourself. I wonder how you remain so upbeat, but it challenges my need to complain about minor issues.

    I truly do wish you all of the best and hope that you are surrounded by people that find value in who you are and the values that you ascribe to. Be assured that I offer you my care and support in any way that may be of help or comfort to you.
     
  3. dolfette

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    i can understand the desire.
    to have that physical contact without feeling like a leper.
     
  4. dolfette

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    double post
     
  5. DC_DEEP

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    I do understand the concept of serosorting, and the concept that it helps to minimize the chances of infecting negative people. I've never really believed in the "supervirus" theory, either.

    The one real concern I do have is the possibility of spreading bacterial infections to immunocompromised individuals. The bacterial STDs are enough of a threat to those of us with healthy immune systems. I can't imagine what they would do (especially the antibiotic resistant strains) to a compromised immune system.

    Also, here's a curious question - among those who practice serosorting, since you already know you are HIV+, do you still get routine testing for other infections?

    Through the mirror indeed. So many things reversed in this scenario, but I need a little while to organize my thoughts on it.
     
  6. Bbucko

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    I get everything tested and monitored every three or four months.

    Thank you for the kind words.
     
  7. DC_DEEP

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    Excellent, I'm glad you keep an eye on those things.

    In some ways, I'm actually jealous of you. Ironic, isn't it, that having the positive status actually gives you some freedom that the rest of us don't have? I'm not lumping you in with the chasers and givers, but that's the whole point of their philosophy.

    I will have to say, though, that I still subscribe to the notion that if it's not in an exclusive relationship, that condoms should be used. HIV status aside, taking risks with the other STDs just does not seem like a good plan to me, and for the same reasons I've addressed in other "bareback" threads. I think it is every sexually active person's responsibility to attempt reductions in STD transmission rates, or even attempt to eliminate them.
     
  8. canuck_pa

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    Dear Bbucko,

    Thank you very much for your informative post. I too have lost many dear friends to this horrid disease.
     
  9. Bbucko

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    The "freedom" you describe is exhilerating, especially at first. I am reminded of the late 70s at times. It comes at a terribly high cost, however. One of the reasons why I am (somewhat) reticent in discussing this is suggesting that there is a lure here that might attract chasers, whom I don't understand at all.

    I also am selective in my serosorting, opting to not fuck the newly-infected. It can take as long as two years for a virus to assimilate into the body, during which time it's especially virulent (wild-type). Personally I prefer long-time survivors such as myself, but then I've always favored mature men.

    I agree with you that condoms should be the norm outside of a strictly monogamous relationship if there is any question of the status of the participant(s) for anal sex.

    For oral sex it can get tricky, though. Personally I've never (even at the height of the dark days) sucked on a condom. Blowjobs are not an effective means of transmitting HIV but are terrific at transmitting most bacterial STDs. Likewise, while condoms when used properly are very effective at blocking HIV (which is a very fragile virus, after all), they are not always so effective at preventing Siphillis or the clap.

    Ultimately it comes down to risk management. In order to assess one's proper risk one needs to be educated as to the mechanics of transmission of the host of creepy-crawlies that are out there. One also needs to be honest in assessing one's needs and limits. Weighing risk versus benefit is the responsibility of the individual, not society at large. I don't want anybody making such decisions for me.
     
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