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2011/06/03

Strange Days for Lemmings: How Safe is Unsafe Sex?

What strange times we live in. It was easy in the late eighties, early nineties; have unsafe sex, get HIV and you die. It was black and white and most people were on board with that whole ‘staying alive’ thing. Safe sex was ‘the word’ sold and as gay men, we bought it, because our lives depended upon it. Then the drug cocktails came along, namely the protease inhibitors, and people began living longer with HIV. The funerals of friends and partners became less and less frequent. And those living with HIV? They got stronger and healthier.

So healthy, they began to forget the lessons learned. Fast forward ten years and they began to backslide. Even those spared the horror of HIV began to tumble down the rabbit hole. High risk behaviors previously shunned were cracking open the door to see if they might be welcome once more. And, to the surprise of many, they were. Sure, condoms were always made available, but fewer were choosing to use them. At sex clubs, tops jonesing for the primal pleasure of seeding a hot ass looked the other way if you approached them with a pair of raincoats in your palm.

Now, a recent study conducted by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has enough substantiated evidence to state that people who are positive, but on a disciplined drug regimen, have a healthy immune system, and are able to maintain a status of non-detectable have a considerably small chance of passing on HIV to their sexual partners. And now the flood gates opened? Well, to be fair, the floodgates opened some time before that particular study was officially announced – two to three years prior, to be exact.

Hey, it makes sense – that someone who is HIV+, and is undetectable (less than 50 or 75 copies of the virus), would have less of a chance of passing the virus on. So… that means that not only is having sex with an HIV+ no longer much of a risk, it also translated to people engaging in unsafe sex with HIV+ people. In fact, a highly controversial study conducted by the Swiss in 2008 seemed to support that mindset - even though it was a study about unprotected vaginal sex. Still, people heard what they wanted to hear.

So, given the propensity for people to lie about their status, the rush, thrill, and desire to have sex without a condom, and the message currently coming from the scientific community… how safe is unsafe sex?

Two words: gonorrhea and syphilis. Both of these STDs are at epidemic levels in the gay community (mostly due to the ParTy scene, but hey… everyone having unsafe sex is guilty). Given that, every three months or so, I have an STD scare which has me running to my doctor in a panic. Fortunately they’ve been just that… panics. But what about the time when it’s not? The idea of the CDC having a big old file on yours truly doesn’t light up my heart E.T. style.

Then again… there is that little, tiny possibility that you could indeed get the virus. Not a big deal? Really? I suggest you talk to someone who is HIV+. They’d probably disagree. Those drugs are expensive (thank you, greedy drug companies) and, without good health insurance, unattainable. Plus the many doctor visits, the wasting, the stigma, the complications, and the constant worry. But some still live in a bubble of denial, believing that to become positive is not a game changer.

And then… there are those, like myself, who have dipped our toes in the waters of unsafe sex and remain unsure of the temperature. Let’s face it, at my age and given my physical deficiencies (not-so-good-looking, lack of hair, big ears, drooping face, barely above average body – see pic above – yep, that’s me two weeks ago), my opportunities for some kick-ass, no-strings sex are becoming fewer and fewer. Add to that the fact that dirty, filthy, slutty, totally anonymous, unsafe sex with multiple partners can be hot as hell (and trips my circuits) and you have something of an adolescent dilemma: if everybody else jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?

What am I, a lemming?

Maybe. There is something intoxicating about attending a warehouse party, making your way down into the basement, walking up the steps to that little dark alcove with the king sized platform, getting on top of it on all fours and offering your ass up to any comer (or cummer, as the case may be). Just the thought of taking dick after dick, load after load fuels many a gangbang fantasy. Also, bareback porn, which has been out there for some time now, is becoming even more prevalent, which not only makes it more enticing, it also makes it seem like more of a possibility: as in something to act out in real life. And BBRTS? Very popular these days. Nice guys, too. There’s something refreshing about men being so out in the open about something kept in the dark (barebacking) by those afraid of the light. They also tend to be more upfront about their HIV status and that’s rather ironic, now isn’t it?

So here we are, caught between two worlds. The total opposite of where we as a community were some 25 years ago. The choice was obvious then… and, to be honest, it still is. But you have to admit that the waters have been muddied.

I am amazed by just how volatile people become about barebacking – but then, lives are at stake, right? Hey, I’m not anyone’s role model. I’m more of a cautionary tale. Just in the past two weeks I had safe sex and bareback sex. They were both exciting… of course, the set ups had a lot to do with just how stimulating the sex was.

Two Friday’s ago, I stopped by the bog and ran into one of my favorite regulars – he reminds me of a hot Fred Durst. He’s just the sweetest guy in the world. Nice eight inch dick, too. We always play safe and usually in some very non-traditional places – under a railroad bridge, behind a tree by the bog, and, on this particular Friday, up on a hill by one of my favorite fallen trees. It was gray and raining on and off. There was a break in the down pour as he drove into the parking lot. I knew it was him, I know his vehicle. I wasn’t exactly prepared for the sort of encounter we usually have, so I ran off into the woods, thinking he wouldn’t come looking for me, given the rain and his propensity for privacy. But, apparently, he was horny enough to do just that. I told him I wasn’t prepared – no condom. He said no problem. Seems for once he was prepared with both a condom and poppers! He followed me to my favorite fallen tree. I took him in my mouth, and then took it up the ass. It was brief, but very satisfying. The poppers he had were something new that I had never tried… and now plan to track down – really powerful stuff. I let him exit the woods first and remained behind until I was sure he’d driven away. He never fails to leave me breathless and a bit giddy. I like to savor that. Bottom line: we played with a condom, so no worries. And no clean-up!

Then, nine days later (yes, I’m working on my compulsivity), I’m mowing lawn at one of my rental properties (it’s empty), when in the driveway pulls an SUV I’ve never seen before. I happened to be on-line updating my pics on one of my regular hook-up sites earlier that morning when I get hit on by someone who qualifies as ‘a definite possibility’. He’s tall, athletic, and has an eight inch beauty. He’s very upfront about what he wants and that is to fuck me. ASAP. I explain that I have to go mow a lawn and that the place is empty, and that we could do it in the garage. He’s game and, much to my surprise and delight, he’s not a no-show. I stop mowing and open the garage door. He slips in, and after very little preamble, he really slips in… and plows me good and hard. He shoots and scores and then is nice enough to wait around until I get myself off. I hadn’t cum in nine days, so it was somewhat impressive. And thick. And creamy white. We clean up, dress, I open up the garage door and we bid one another adieu. Then I make a beeline for home, where I can douche, clean out my ass and hope for the best. As in… that he’s as DDF as he claims to be.

Still, I worry. Bottom line: unsafe sex? Still unsafe.

And now what? Am I at a crossroads? Is some change coming? Is this the start of a new chapter. A new lease on life? Will I ever just shut up about this and do the right thing and abstain from having sex without a condom? Or will I still be struggling with these same issues and a year from now still be asking these same questions?

Probably.

I guess I’m becoming something of a professional fence sitter. But given my vantage point? The view’s not bad at all.

But views change. As for a definitive answer?

Sorry.

No where in sight, children.

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