Monday, February 17, 2014

Living Positively: Why Practicing Safer Sex Is Still A Good Idea

A look back at the HIV epidemic, shows that HIV transmission increased significantly in the 70s and 80s when anonymous sex and sex with multiple partners in drug and drink fueled haze were the norm.  HIV spread quickly and quietly in this era, leaving many dead in its wake.  These days we have anti-retrovirals that improve life expectancy for those infected and allow many to lead a somewhat normal life.  The fear of HIV infection and death has diminished greatly, but there is still stigma surrounding the virus, which often leads to sero-sorting or HIV positive people limiting their sexual encounters to others with the virus and HIV negative people avoiding those who are infected.  The use of crystal meth, poppers, and other drug fueled sex romps that decrease inhibitions has returned as HIV infected people on meds with undetectable status cope with discrimination and the reality of living day to day with a dark specter following them.  This often leads to living for the moment and engaging in natural or unsafe sex; throwing caution to the wind.  But, what fueled the epidemic before could easily return and hurt those most at risk.  We have no guarantee that antiretrovirals will continue to work.  There is no exemption from the possibility that engaging in unsafe sex will not lead to a recombinant HIV infection that has mutated into a more lethal form with drug-resistance.    Often people with HIV infection are seeking intimacy and skin-to-skin encounters, but are we unwisely putting ourselves at risk again?  Its time to rethink our sexual encounters and how we practice safer sex.  What happened before can just as easily happen again.  A new virus or drug resistant bacteria could emerge from out of nowhere and defeat all the progress that has been made in the gay community.  As gays become more accepted in society, its time to rethink our self-worth and how we engage in sexual encounters.  I propose that we continue using condoms even with other HIV-positive sex partners and save the barebacking for that special person we find to settle down with and marry.