Do Gay Men Even Care About HIV?

Sex without a condom just feels better, no matter how you slice it. No matter where you put it, and whether you’re gay or straight. It’s so easy to “slide the panties right to the side” (cc Jay-Z), stick it in and go! But does this mean everyone is entitled to fuck without condoms as much as they want, whenever they please? Should you use a condom even for blowjobs? Well, that’s a conversation to be had between you and your sexual partner/s.

Every time you have sex with someone you’re essentially having sex with everyone they’ve had sex with. A prominent queer theorist in his early 40s once told me he he’s had over 5,000 sexual partners. 5,000! I’m no prude, and I think people should totally be free to fuck until they can’t jizz anymore. But how do you know that a person you’ve just had sex with hasn’t already had sex with two or three other people just earlier that day? How do you know that they haven’t had sex with three different people everyday that week?

You don’t, which means every time you have sex with someone new you’re taking a risk. But sex without some kind of danger or risk is boring, right?

The other day my friend and I were talking about a Slate article on the miracle drug Truvada, which reportedly provides nearly flawless protection against HIV. It’s covered under most insurance plans, has virtually no side effects and, if taken daily, offers 99% protection against HIV infection.

Sounds fabulous, right? Then why have only 1,774 people filled prescriptions for the drug between January 2011 and March 2013?

Reading the article I felt really excited, if a bit naive. I thought that if we can’t find a cure for HIV or some sort of vaccine, this pill seems like a blessing. I thought it meant that gay men and really anyone could pop this baby like a vitamin and never have to worry about the threat of HIV again. Sounds a lot better than that emergency HIV regiment, where if you slip up once with a hot guy wielding a tight bod and a fat 9 inch cut dick, you have to take a cocktail of pills for a month that’s supposed to kill the virus and you’re sick for a whole month. But at least you might not get HIV!

Then, my friend pointed out that we don’t know the long-term health effects of this pill. We don’t know whose pockets will get fatter because of it — plus there are other STIs to worry about, like incurable gonorrhea (THE LITERAL WORST OMG ZIPPING MY PANTS UP FOREVER. CAN U IMAGINE HAVING A PUSS-FILLED DICK FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?). But, more importantly, he pointed out that Truvada is a cop out drug for gay dudes who want to have all the bareback sex.

With Truvada, you could theoretically have all kinds of unprotected sex and not contract HIV. But that’s good right? Or wait, it’s bad? So is this a blessing and a curse? The Slate article noted that AIDS activists were against Truvada for precisely this reason — that gay men would have bareback sex and forget to take a single pill, thus becoming susceptible to contracting the virus after all. This is in light of studies that show that only 1 in 6 gay men use condoms unfailingly anyway, and a drug like Truvada would probably reduce that number to even deeper lows.

Everybody likes condom-less sex — straight and gay. And bareback sex in the confines of a monogamous relationship is one thing, but having bareback sex with any and everyone or even some and a select few puts you and your sexual partners at risk — which is fine if you let them know that you don’t always use condoms and they chose to take the risk with you. But when you are a young gay, someone who is sexually active at 14 or even 16, you aren’t always educated on STIs, let alone HIV. You are just excited that you can cum and you are trying to do it all the time!

So now I don’t know what to think. Where does Truvada leave us? On the one hand, people should fuck freely as much as they want and how they want, and I guess Truvada encourages that. But knowing this, do gay men even still care about HIV? Do young gay men think HIV isn’t the death sentence it used to be? Should gay men, young and old, start taking Truvada as a preventative? What do we do now? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

BOYS is an anthology showcasing the voices, stories, and lives of gay, queer, and trans* men from around the world. Fetch it here.


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