Sunday, 20 March 2016
Sex is Gay Again!
On February 25 Buzzfeed announced the first ever documented case of someone on PrEP testing positive for HIV.
First of all, it’s important to note that PrEP is almost 100% effective at preventing men who are not already HIV positive from contracting the HIV virus. Just as one example — of the 1,400 people taking PrEP in an ongoing study led by the Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, not a single one of them has contracted HIV.
The fact is that PrEP is a kind of magic pill. By that, I mean that gay men — who have been living under a cloud of fear (since the advent of AIDS nearly 35 years ago) — can at last have guilt-free, worry-free sex.
Gay sex is gay again.
The reason I don’t set much store by this single case of PrEP ‘failure,’ is because, infuriatingly, ignorant attitudes around AIDS have always been informed by the notion that ‘we can never be 100% sure.’ Remember when people were uncertain about letting their kids go to school with other kids who had HIV? After being reassured that it was highly, highly unlikely that their children would ever get AIDS from contact with a child who had HIV, over and over the parents would come back with the inevitable question — ‘But is it not possible that my child might get AIDS from an AIDS infected child?’ And which point the medical expert would be obliged to say: ‘Well it’s possible…anything is possible, but —‘
The same logic has been used around oral sex. There is very little risk of getting HIV from oral sex. It would have saved countless lives if gay men had been told they could substitute worry-free oral for worrisome anal. But no, AIDS organizations have always insisted on reminding us over and over ‘well of course it’s possible to get AIDS from oral sex.’
Yeah, right. And it’s also possible I could win the lottery and get hit my lightening at the same time.
You see, when people are wielding the politics of fear, there is always cause for worry.
The important thing to remember about this person who contracted HIV while taking PrEP is this: the evidence is completely and utterly unscientific. Proof that he actually did get HIV while on PrEP is entirely dependent on whether the man was faithfully taking his meds. But the only confirmation for that is his word.
Now I’m not calling this guy a liar. And I certainly don’t wish to demonize him. But he has stepped forward with information that simply cannot be scientifically proved. Add to this the fact that during the period when this man claimed to be taking his meds every day, he was taking anti-depressive drugs, and having serious health problems. And the way this man talks about what happened to him, shows some misconceptions about AIDS, if not a certain bias: “It’s important for people to know that there is the possibility, as opposed to the fantasy that there have been no recorded infections on PrEP.”
Why is it important to note that, with due respect, sir?
Facts are facts. But could we admit there is an agenda out there? Could we admit that there are lots of Catholics, members of the religious right, and yes — even uptight fags —who would rather gay men were not having sex without guilt?
I don’t call it living in a fantasy world to believe in the countless scientific studies that affirm the efficacy of PrEP,
I call people taking advantage of on one guy’s undocumented claim that he faithfully took his meds — another kind of fantasy.
And I’m kind of frightened to think of the prejudice, sex-hatred, and ill-will that might be motivating it.