Another worried well (*knock on wood) (BUSH HIV PREVENTION PLAN 2007)
Jan 24, 2008
I added the knock on wood because I believe in not giving the fates a chance to indulge their love of irony.
About 4 years ago, I received my last HIV test. It always scared me. It still does. Shortly before taking it, I had unprotected receptive anal intercourse with a bi guy I knew. I didn't let him ejaculate inside of me, though I did let him cum in my mouth.
Immediately after I finished (as it always does) the regret began. I've always been suspicious of bi guys who are good in bed. A sinking feeling of "it takes practice to be this good" that was usually buried in a rush of hormones.
So I started obsessing. About a year later after breaking my leg kickboxing, I contracted Methicillin Resistant Staph. MRSA is a bitch and a half, and I was petrified that my body wasn't fighting it off because my immune system was failing. Nevermind that I spent time in the hospital 6 months earlier while I was recovering. Nevermind that CA-MRSA is ridiculously widespread. This had to be related to my slipup.
I met a hot guy while I was recovering. We had great sex. Wonderful sex. My last evening in that neck of the woods, I did something I've never done before and wouldn't do again. I ejaculated inside of him, and vice versa. All sans condom.
To say that made me even sicker with worry would be an understatement. A careful life, thrown away because I had compromised with myself over safe sex.
From that point on I lived a life of mental torture. I had just graduated from college and instead of living out the best years of my life, I withdrew.
Some of my life I still enjoyed. I indulged my love of reading and movies. I started martial arts again. But my life was focused solely on escapism, living in a fantasy world where I could line everything in my life up before I took the test that I knew would come back positive. I needed a good job. Insurance. A healthy lifestyle. To finish paying for the new car. Enough vacation time to recuperate from the diagnosis.
I became so obsessive I didn't even like typing the word "positive" and was hesitant to use a plus sign.
My relationships dwindled and I grew lonely. I didn't ever want to date, fearing I would have to confront my suspicions of being HIV positive. Instead I had a serious of meaningless flings. I was safe. I wasn't that far gone into paranoia. But the fact is, I am and I was an attractive, well read, college educated young man. I passed up so many quality guys just so I could keep living this weird liminal life I had created for myself, neither HIV positive or negative. Over the years I grew tired of being the equivalent to Schrodinger's cat with a taste for cock.
4 years later, I could make up no more excuses. I was drawing in on the time I knew I would have to get an HIV test. I had insurance, I had a job, an awesome dog and a Playstation 3 and a big screen TV to comfort me when the news came back as I knew it would, bad.
Finally a week ago someone from my city's health department called me. They wanted to let me know I had been listed as a partner for someone who had tested positive. All my worries came flooding back to me.
Also with it came a sense of relief. There was no more running. I was being held accountable. I had to be tested.
The social worker came to my home and drew some blood. She told me I could find out the results in an hour at the clinic. I went to my weight bench and lifted for an hour. Then I showered and shaved and made my way to the health clinic. I figured if I was going to meet my doom, I would look like a gentleman doing so.
And the test was negative.
4 unbelievably aching, hellish, drawn out years. 4 years. I chased away so many people in that time because I was afraid. I passed up so many opportunities. I've been staying in my job because I was afraid to go to graduate school and lose my insurance. I was afraid to go to Europe. Afraid to take any sort of full contact martial art again. Anything that could expose myself or others I shied away from.
Now I'm 28, if the sun had been shining that day I'm sure it would have been shining just a little bit brighter as I stepped out of the clinic. As it was, the rain felt noticeably wetter, so I guess that's something.
My last sexual experience was with an hiv positive guy. We had protected sex. I gave him an unprotected blowjob without ejaculation. In a way I think positive guys might be best for hookups as opposed to "negative" guys. This guy knows his numbers, and gets blood tested for every STD every month. I can't claim as much, even now, and neither could most guys who don't know their status. In a world where everyone has to be treated like they're hiv positive it seems like the guys who take control and do know for sure that they are usually are in the best position to be safe sex partners.
Our encounter was 5 and a half weeks prior to the test, enough where, coupled with the low risk and the window period for most people usually peaking around 6 weeks, I'm not anymore worried than if he had been "negative" like other partners(still, never hurts to knock on wood).
For me, I'm giving up sex for awhile. For it's consequences to have such a hold on me, I need to explore myself a little more. Also, I work out a hell of a lot more when I'm horny and the motivation is nice.
I guess the whole point of this long rambling discourse is in part, to thank you for the work you and others like you do.
But also I'd like to put my story out there, because I know there are others who have locked themselves in to a never-ending cycle of fear and doubt.
This took up 4 years of my life. 4 years when I could have been doing every stupid thing that 20somethings are allowed to do because it's their youth to waste.
If I get hit by a bus tomorrow then I've at least lived 2 days out of the past 4 years. Here's hoping there's many more for all of us.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Hello Schrodinger's Cat with a Taste for Cock,
Thanks for taking the time to write in. Your twenty-something story is all too common these days: "Knocking on wood," hoping that the fates won't intervene, instead of merely "covering your woody" with latex so fate can not intervene! Your post reminds me just how ineffective our current HIV-prevention programs are one more piece in the tragic Bush legacy. Perhaps this is an ideal opportunity for me to comment on Bush's new HIV-prevention strategy clearly another failure in the making!
The original Bush Administration plan set out by the CDC covered 2001 to 2005 and set a goal of cutting the number of new infections in the United States by 50%. According to current CDC estimates, the number of new infections not only has not declined, but in fact has substantially increased! The failed 2001-2005 plan has been in limbo for the past two years. Faced with the soon-to-be-released new information concerning increased numbers of new HIV infections in the U.S., the Bush Administration and CDC have an updated strategy to "guide the agency's HIV-prevention efforts for the next three years." Like so many of Bush's constantly cascading strategies, he is now downgrading expectations, hoping to reduce HIV infections by "5% per year or at least 10% by the end of 2010." He plans to do this by essentially extending the same failed strategies from the 2001-2005 plan! Add to this a 19% decline in HIV-prevention dollars due to inflation's effect on year-to-year funding. Given the past history of the failed five-year plan upon which the new extension is based, the two-year lapse until this extension was announced, inadequate resources devoted to HIV prevention and a 19-percent decline in the purchasing power of existing prevention dollars, this program, like Bush, has failure written all over it. Apparently the fact that every 13 minutes another U.S. citizen becomes infected with HIV is not a matter of national urgency for Dubya, who we can no refer to as an "ERRORIST!" (What we need is a "War on ERROR"!) There is no doubt that HIV prevention along with so many other pressing issues of monumental importance to our country will be left by King George the W for the next president to sort out. If only the money for "abstinence-only until marriage," a program demonstrated to be a colossal failure, was channeled into HIV-prevention efforts that have been scientifically validated to be highly effective (clean needle exchange programs, for example), we could begin to turn the tide on this pandemic.
And so Twenty Some Wood Knocker, I'm counting on you to not only keep your woody safe, but also to do your part to "pay it forward." That means take what you've learned here and spread the truth about HIV awareness and prevention. Also, vote all conservative rightwing science-phobic wing nuts out of office!
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