This blog is by no means a way for me to glorify being HIV positive and in no way am I suggesting through the scope of its content that deliberately seeking to become infected with HIV is a sensible or solely beneficial choice. What you are about to read is merely a balanced viewpoint of some of the aspects of living with the virus and how it is not necessarily all doom and gloom. We all make choices in our lives, for whatever reasons at the time and as a result have to live with the consequences of our actions. Barebacking, stealthing, breeding, gift giving and bug chasing are things that are happening around us all every day. They may not be talked about much but that does not mean that they are not happening.
Being a member of a club brings with itself a certain feeling of exclusivity. It makes the members feel special in their own way. The rock climbing club; The golf Club; The MX5 owners club; The gentleman’s club; The FreeMasons; The swinger club. You get the idea. We like to associate with others with the same interests, the same outlook on life, the same goals and life experiences. This is a basic foundation of social structure. As with many clubs a membership is required. Sometimes this is free, sometimes there is a price to pay and sometimes you need a certain possession or attribute. The main point is that people like to be in a club because it gives them a sense of belonging and a feeling of solidarity with the other members.
When I was first diagnosed with HIV several of my buddies came to see me to offer support, to make sure that I was not freaking out, to give me a big hug and to “Welcome me to the Club”. Now this last item may seem like a bit of an odd thing to do. How can having HIV be like being in a club? Just what benefits does it give you? For one, there is certainly a price to pay on a psychological, physical and social level. Looking back it was almost like I had been through some kind of initiation. No pledges of allegiance or swearing on a bible, just the fact that I no longer was part of the HIV negative community. A tiny, microscopic biological particle had caused a huge change in my life. Life being a very important word in that sentence, because the very nature of this virus was that it could weaken you to the point where you would die. So on this point there is certainly an attribute required to be in “The Club”. Being Positive! But this expression extends much further than the obvious ramifications of having a disease.
Many guys I know do not use condoms and have never used them. This term is known as barebacking. Some see this as an irresponsible thing to do as it can lead to transmission of sexual infections and diseases, but between consenting adults it is perfectly natural. Heterosexual couples bareback all the time and in fact, if they didn’t we would soon have a bit of a population problem! Penetrative sex without physical barriers is as intimately and physically close as 2 people can get, which is one of the reasons the pill, coil, cap, vasectomy and contraceptive implants/injections were created in the first place. If condoms were the only form of contraception available on the planet there would be a whole lot more than 6.8 billion people here! So, why are gay men demonised so much for having unprotected sex? I would say the main reason is because we are such promiscuous fuckers! Men like to have sex. Men like to have sex with as many partners as possible. Men think about sex all day long. They look at other peoples arses, genital areas, lips, chests. They talk to each other about sex, what they did, are going to do, want to do. This is as true for straight men as it is for gay men and though we are human and have higher a state of consciousness and morals and free will, essentially we are just walking loaded weapons of DNA looking for as many targets as possible.
In the straight community this desire is contained somewhat because of the social control structures and mechanisms that have been put in place by tradition and religion. These controls were created to foster stable family environments for the resulting offspring created by the barebacking straight couples. Marriage and monogamy are seen as both normal and as desirable. Gay men cannot have biological children as a result of their sexual encounters and as such are less influenced and controlled by these measures. I am in no way saying that a gay couple is incapable of having a loving, committed and monogamous relationship. How people choose to have their relationship is between them. The chances of a gay couple being open to additional sexual partners within the realms of their relationship however is, in my experience, significantly increased. Anyway, I digress. The point I am making here is that gay men do not have to obey the regular rules of relationships set by society and as a rule we don’t! The amount of Sauna’s (Health clubs where gay, Bisexual and “straight” men go to fuck each other), Fuck clubs, cruising grounds, cottages, internet hook up sites and mobile phone apps out there will clearly demonstrate just how open and liberal men are when it comes to sex and promiscuity. Men cannot impregnate each other and so unprotected sex on the surface has a lot less long term implications. During the 80’s and 90’s HIV was a much more scary prospect. Treatment was still in its infancy stages and carried a lot of debilitating side effects. This one factor was enough to cause many guys to rubber up and have safe sex. But with modern treatments HIV no longer has the same scare factor that it once did. Guys still love to have unsafe sex and the consequences seem less threatening. Becoming HIV positive in 2011 no longer is such an ordeal. The social, professional and peer support networks available now are amazing.
For some, myself included in this group, the choice to have bareback sex was partly fuelled by this modern day perception of HIV. Many porn producers are bareback only and use porn models who openly advertise that they are HIV positive through biohazard tattoos. Many fuck clubs are geared up towards bareback sex with members comparing how many loads (of cum up their arses) they have had or how many guys they have bred (fucked and cum inside of). Some poz men openly talk about their status during sex. So called “Poz Talk” is another way for guys to eroticise and fetishise their status. Much like a straight guy might say “I’m gonna fuck you hard you dirty bitch” (coming over all butch there, I have little idea of what straight couples say to each other while they are fucking, correct me if im wrong here lol), poz guys may say things like “Take my poz cock up your arse” or “You want my toxic load”. Being on the other side of the equation now however I have been approached by negative guys who ask me to Breed them with my poz load. Sadly for them, this is not my bag and even if it were, being on meds and having an undetectable viral load makes it virtually impossible for me to pass on the virus. Feel free to read : http://www.aidsmap.com/page/1429357/ for information on how the Swiss now deem HIV positive men with a sustained undetectable viral load of 6 months and no other STI as non-infective for HIV.
For HIV negative guys the anxiety of potentially becoming positive can be overwhelming and so when it eventually happens, which in these scenarios it inevitably will, there is almost a sense of relief. The worst has happened. I know guys who have deliberately become Positive because it will gain them access, as a positive man, to proper health care and attention for other pre existing medical problems. Bit of a drastic step you may think, but sadly, certain components of healthcare in the UK such as mental health, are seriously overlooked and neglected. Having HIV can ‘up’ your priority on the so called urgency list for treatment and effective care.
Some guys actively seek out HIV positive men to have bareback sex with so that they can increase the chances of becoming infected. This is called bug chasing. Some eroticise the risk of having this kind of risky sex. Bug chasing can stem from a lot of other different reasons also such as self punishment and depression or the desire to just be “in” the club. The guy passing on HIV knowingly to a negative guy is ironically called a “Gift Giver”. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Surely this is illegal. Surely it is GBH or ABH or something and yes, you would be right. But downloading a movie from PirateBay is illegal too, doesn’t stop people doing it. Some gift givers however pass HIV onto non-consenting negative guys. This can be by lying about their status or pre damaging a condom with a needle before they use it. This is called “Stealthing”. Just because a guy tells you he is negative it is not always the case. Just because a guy uses a condom it does not mean you are 100% safe from infection. Oh if only the world was so straightforward! Now don’t go getting all alarmed by this last piece of information. Many positive guys are terrified of passing on the virus. For risk of prosecution and also because they have had such a rough time coming to terms with being positive themselves that they would not knowingly want to put somebody else through it too. I’m just letting you know that such things happen. If you are negative and wish to remain that way and manage your risk by using condoms then always use your own. I’m gonna wind this up here for now as I need to go cook tea but I want to expand a bit more on this concept of being in a “club”