Ten Things HIV-Positive Guys Want Negative Guys To Know

Ten Things HIV-Positive Guys Want Negative Guys To Know

Originally published on queerty.com

When Donald Sterling dissed Magic Johnson for being promiscuous and unworthy, it was nothing new for people living with HIV. They’ve heard it all over the years. A lot of those misconceptions persist today, even (or maybe especially) among gay men. Our attitudes can be hurtful, stigmatizing, and even contradictory.

Let’s give HIV-positive gay men the chance to set the record straight, and break down ten things they would like the rest of us to know, based on research by Queerty writer Mark S. King. This list may not represent the views of every positive guy, but they definitely echo many of their most common frustrations.

1. All positive guys are not barebacking drug addicts

It’s probably human nature to try and find fault in the actions of those becoming infected. If we see them as extremists, it helps the rest of us feel more secure in our own choices.

And yet the truth is that the majority of new infections occur within “primary relationships,” such as a lover or boyfriend, and usually because one partner did not know he was infected and then transmitted HIV to his partner. That’s why there’s such intense focus on getting tested and doing it regularly. New infections are typically not the result of some insane night at a meth-fueled sex party or a boozy night at the baths. It happens, sure, but that doesn’t make good ‘ol fashioned sex any safer. Leather or lace, it’s all the same to HIV.

2. Living with HIV is not a toxic horror show of medications

Yes, HIV usually requires medications and doctor visits. So does every chronic condition. With so many options for HIV drug therapies, side effects have been reduced drastically and, once in development, will reduce them even further. HIV-positive guys are not weeping every morning as they chug down pills with their morning coffee.

3. HIV infection does not automatically turn guys into dangerous liars

One of the most unfortunate misconceptions about positive guys is that they outright lie about their status just to get laid, or worse, are on a mission to infect others. Can we dial down the rhetoric about intentional transmission, please? What is true is that positive men often have trouble disclosing because of the very stigma that results from sensational rumors like this one. It is unfair to blame all positive men due to the reckless behavior of a relative few.

4. Not every HIV-Positive guy is dangerous to bed

We know positive guys who are undetectable and are not infecting their partners, so rejecting people based on their status can be more discriminatory than practical. Besides, labeling someone as damaged goods or unworthy sucks, and if you’ve been on the receiving end of this practice you know how demoralizing it can be.

The risk of sex with someone who thinks they are HIV negative is higher than sex with an undetectable positive person. This is because the viral activity in a newly positive person can be incredibly high, and he may not even know it.

Of course, either way you have to know who you’re dealing with. So hold off on any risky moves until you know him well enough to be sure he’s negative (get tested together!) or be sure he’s taking his meds and is undetectable.

If you are compelled to demand your sex partner’s HIV status up front, consider a more respectful way to do it (“I tested negative as of this date. What about you?”). Asking if he’s “clean” or “disease free” just makes you look like a dick, especially since you don’t know what STDS you may have if you are sexually active at all.

5. Our health and risk behaviors are up to us and no one else

After decades of scientific and treatment research focused on those with HIV, new options are now available to sexually active negative men, such as Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). This advance puts negative guys in control of their own infection risks. Yes, there’s been some concern about the toxicity of Truvada, the PrEP medicine; although new reports suggest that these have been overstated. Your own health is always in your hands through the choices you make — and they have nothing to do with the status of your partner, whether known or unknown. The blame game has never benefitted anyone, and the playing field has always been level, whether we acknowledge it or not.

6. Guys with HIV are not promiscuous… or have a rotten sex life… or no sex life

All of these are usually false, if you’re using the typical sex life of a single gay man as a barometer. We all have our moments. Sometimes our dance card is filled, sometimes there’s a drought, and sometimes the sex we have sucks, and not in a good way. And just like the rest of us, positive guys are getting their share and having satisfying, balls-to-the-wall sex when they’re lucky. Judging guys for the degree of action they are getting feels like an old, worn argument against all gay men that we could really do without.

This is just another example of trying to distance ourselves from positive guys by judging them as different from ourselves. They’re really not. Some are prudes, some are sluts. After all, it only takes one time. And isn’t a slut just someone who has more sex that you do?

7. How they got it and who gave it to them is none of your business

The details of someone else’s infection aren’t your personal soap opera or cautionary tale, no matter your good intentions. If poz guys feel like sharing it with you sometime, they will. Chances are they came to terms with it long ago and it’s probably not very interesting, anyway. They probably had sex and got HIV. The details are not yours for the asking.

8. If you need an HIV educator, go find one

Having HIV doesn’t come with a master class in epidemiology and HIV transmission. Every person with HIV is not an expert or a prevention specialist — or an activist. They are simply living with the virus. And if they do find themselves having to educate you about the simplest facts of HIV prevention, don’t be surprised if they are the ones that decline to have sex. Nothing kills the mood like HIV 101. And most positive guys aren’t going to be put into the position of talking anyone into bed. They probably have hotter, more enlightened options on their smart phone anyway.

9. Positive guys aren’t going anywhere soon

Recent studies suggest that someone becoming infected with HIV today in the United States has the same odds of living a normal life span as anyone else. Some research even suggests a life expectancy that is longer than average, because people with HIV see a physician more often and other health concerns can be identified and addressed sooner. They are also more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol, eat well and exercise regular, the keys to health and longevity.

Positive guys know this, and are living their lives with appreciation, joy, and an eye towards the future. There’s no reason for them to settle for second best. As infections continue and treatment improves, healthy HIV positive gay men are a growing population. It might be better to try and understand and respect them than hang on to outdated fears or biases.

10. Even more breakthroughs are coming

There is research underway that will continue to change the landscape and make life easier and less risky for both positive and negative. Rectal microbicides (lubes and douches that kill HIV on contact) are being tested. More medications to be used as PrEP are being developed, including injections that could offer protection from HIV infection for months rather than the regimen of a daily pill. Condoms are getting a makeover with new designs and sensitivity profiles. Before long, even modest risks of infection could be eliminated for those who take advantage of new technology. Treatments for HIV infections will become even less toxic and even more effective.

All this progress isn’t only significant in terms of HIV transmission rates. It could help bridge a viral divide that has troubled our community for well over a generation.

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14 Comments

  1. Christopher B!
    November 23, 07:00 Reply

    Yup… always play safe. It’s the best thing you can do. My friend thinks I’m weird because I keep my own stash of condoms and lube and sometimes have it in my bag wherever I go… only you can protect yourself best.

  2. gad
    November 23, 07:46 Reply

    I really feel for our brothers who are living positively especially when it comes to stigmatization. I remember before my wedding when we had to do the mandatory HIV test. I went to the hospital and innocently announced that I want to do HIV test. You need to see how everybody around me froze with fright and scampered away from me. The nurse,s countenance only changed when I told her the test was a requirement for my wedding. You can imagine how I felt even when I’m not carrying the virus. Stigma is one big problem that people living with HIV have to contend with.

  3. iamcoy
    November 23, 08:25 Reply

    The stigma however is dying down.. but education is key. It is important to note that some acts are still very safe eg kissing. Saliva is not known to harbor d virus. But semen does… you know you can get the virus off blow jobs right?
    So sucking off a guys cum/precum and proceeding to wear a condom to have sex when u don’t know each others status is a foolish act

    • pinkpanthertb
      November 23, 08:29 Reply

      I heard the blowjob part is risky when you’ve got a wound in your mouth. Otherwise you suck the precum and if it is infected, how would the virus survive, unless there’s a sore it can latch into

      • Max
        November 23, 12:18 Reply

        Its only dangerous when you have wound in your mouth. The virus if swallowed, is killed by stomach acid. So for those of you with bleeding gum, wait for at least 45 minutes after brushing before you can engage in bj or even kissing…

      • s_sensei
        November 23, 12:28 Reply

        One can get HIV through oral sex. However, the risk is higher when the oral mucosal lining is breached. But fact is even brushing your mouth can breach this mucosal lining, therefore it is advisable not to engage in oral sex with a person whose status you aren’t sure of. Sounds scary, right? Oral sex still has a lower risk than anal sex, however.

    • iamcoy
      November 23, 13:22 Reply

      Max it is not Only. . Don’t make absolute statements

  4. iamcoy
    November 23, 08:44 Reply

    Naah. You need to know dat the mucosa of d mouth and skin are different. Things in the tongue and underneath it quickly diffuse into the systemic circulation. There must not be a wound for the virus in d mouth to shout Uhuru. Don’t depend on hearsay pinky, search the books

  5. FKA Chizzie
    November 23, 09:11 Reply

    A friend of mine who is HIV positive told me recently how a guy, who happens to be a doctor, took advantage of the fact that my friend was intoxicated and had bareback lubeless sex with him. The Doctor was on the receptive end and was completely oblivious of my friends status neither did he bother to ask. When my friend insisted they use a condom, the doctor told him that one doesn’t get HIV by having sex once with someone who by chance might have the virus. ..apparently u need repeated exposure ( the idiocy in that sentence)

    when the deed was done my friend felt guilty, I advised him to surreptitiously hint that the doctor begins PEP immediately but he’s afraid he might give out his status in the process especially seeing as the doctor is well known amongst gay circles

    so I guess thats how the doctor most likely now has HIV. tragic

    • Lanre Swagg
      November 23, 09:30 Reply

      FKA Chizzie, you said ‘most likely’. Reminds me about that Likert Scale that researchers use, from ‘strongly disagree’ or ‘most likely’ all the way to ‘least’ etc, in 5 steps. In other words, I assume your statement gives away your personal opinion about infectivity….

      Who knows, maybe the receptive doctor already knew he had HIV sef; Since we are in the season of assumptions, it wudnt hurt to assume everything….

      *…Assumes today’s cup of Lipton Yellow Label will be sour; Tosses teacup out of window…*

    • s_sensei
      November 23, 12:32 Reply

      Your friend is also guilty. He would not have succumbed to the pressure. But I don’t blame any of them too much. Weakness is a human thing and every body has a moment of weakness. I mean, who hasn’t done something totally stupid before? So I judge not…

  6. iamcoy
    November 23, 09:20 Reply

    Lol.. that guy na native doctor if it’s true he said that. Lol.. Once ke.

    • Kryss S
      November 23, 10:54 Reply

      Lol! All this ppl that went to Iya Leja Medical school! The same way some ignorant fools will say a gal can’t get pregnant after just one encounter. Ignorance is truly a disease.
      Thanks for Educating us Pinky!

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