January 26, 2015

“I have a question. I’m clean but I haven’t used a condom since 2006? I also have had unprotected sex top/bottom with poz/undetectable guys but none have cum inside of me. And I’ve been tested since sex with them and am still clean. Parts of me are it’s like I’m testing fate. I’m not trying to get HIV but I’m aware of the consequences if I do get it. The types of sex situations I love and the scenes I get into I know leave me more open to get HIV. I guess this isn’t really a question more so than me needing express my mind. I can’t really talk about this thought process to anybody really. There’s a question in all of this but not sure what to ask. When I met a couple and they had invited me back to their place and they were candid about your status. I struggled with my decision. A big part of me wanted to throw caution to the wind and go for it but I didn’t. I guess I’m trying to understand my own thoughts on this. Any advice or just an ear to listen is appreciated. Hope I’m not offending anyone or being stupid in wanting to talk about my thoughts.”

I’m glad you’re clean, I am too. I took a shower this morning, used soap and everything. It’s polite to be clean whenever you have to interact with the public, especially working environments. Now, on the weekends I tend to be very dirty. I let the stink build up under my arms, and sometimes (depending on the time, day, and who I think might be sucking my cock later) I let the stink build up under my foreskin too.

But that’s not what you meant, is it? Most people who use the term clean to describe their HIV status are not aware what they are subconsciously telling those of us who have HIV. Many years ago when diseases were less understood but the fact that they were contagious was understood, those who were infected with a disease would yell out “Unclean” whenever there was another person within hearing range. This would signal to the healthy person to steer clear of the person with the disease and the area they were in, so that they could stay heathy. There was a great deal of social stigma around being labeled “unclean” therefore many people hid their symptoms as long as they could to avoid the label. Unfortunately, people were contagious before they were symptomatic, meaning that they were pretending to be “clean” and spreading the disease to other “clean” people. Once they were discovered to be “unclean” they were cast out of society and left to live in colonies with people similarly afflicted. When you evoke this language in connection with HIV, you are subconsciously telling people who are infected with HIV that you support segregation from the general populous for people infected. At least, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and believing that you are doing it subconsciously, because there are people who use this language AND agree with the ancient way of dealing with the “unclean.” These people WANT us to go live on an island with everyone else who “deserved to catch it” and leave respectable folks alone, clean and happy. These people are not afraid to share their opinions loudly and publicly. If I had a dollar for every person who told me I was a disgraceful, disease spreader who deserved to die; well, I’d still be writing this column for free, but I would be doing it with much nicer surroundings. You are allying yourself with those people when you use the word “clean” to describe your HIV status.

There are people who tell me “it’s just a word,” I should “grow a thicker skin,” and “not be so sensitive;” or they “don’t mean it like that,” and I should “know what [they] mean.” The problem with those people is that they are giving the bullies permission to continue to bully us, and blaming us for not being able to take it. It’s like the parent who says “if your kid wasn’t a wuss, my kid wouldn’t pick on him,” which isn’t okay in any school of thought, but as soon as the abused person has a disease; it’s open season apparently.

As for the rest of your question: This couple that you turned down was honest enough to tell you that they were positive, but you didn’t think that their honesty extended to sharing whether they were undetectable or not (you didn’t say if they said one way or the other.) You are willing to have sex with people who are positive and undetectable, but you didn’t feel comfortable asking this couple if they fit that description. You’re already not using condoms, and are only afraid of HIV. It sounds to me like you should be taking PrEP and taking control of your own health. That way it won’t matter if the person you are having sex with is positive, negative, undetectable, or thinks that they are negative while actually being newly infected and so full of virus that even their pre-cum is infectious. Yes, you’ve dodged the bullet so far but you can’t keep it up and expect that you’ll stay uninfected, unless you start using some sort of protection. PrEP is classified by the CDC as HIV prevention, so you’ll only be exposing yourself to everything else if you continue with your current condom use; but at least you won’t get HIV.

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