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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Serosorting and Sex Clubs


A Video Blog

By Mark S. King

January 4, 2010

Ever taken a guided tour of a gay men's sex club? Brace yourself. My friend Bill from Poz4Play.com (whose site I should warn you contains adult content) is about to do exactly that in my video blog below.


Episode 12: Serosorting and Sex Clubs

When I was sleeping around, I gladly shared my HIV status because I preferred other poz partners. It meant less anxiety and probably unprotected sex, which I preferred. While my sex partner count has been reduced to 1 these days, it turns out my former sexual strategy has a name: serosorting. Seeking out partners who share your HIV status.

In one of life's ironies, I remember alarmists in the 80s suggesting that HIV-positive people be sent to an island or otherwise segregated so as not to infect others. Today, many gay men are essentially doing just that, by limiting sex to other poz men.

It's risk reduction in an epidemiological sense, but does it simply allow for risky sex that might promote other STDs? And what of the more psychological effect, that is, limiting our bodies (and our hearts) to only those "similarly afflicted"?

I'll tell you where I stand. Any practice that a) promotes HIV disclosure to partners, and b) reduces the chance of infecting an HIV-negative person, is fine by me. Yes, people lie. But as a general practice I believe it is solid risk reduction.

Check out the video and join in the debate! And thanks, my friends, for following my blog (previous episodes are listed in the column on your right). Your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated. And have you subscribed to this blog? It's easy. Be sure to sign up to receive TheBody.com's weekly updates as well.

Meanwhile my friends, please be well.

Mark

To contact Mark, click here.

See Also
More HIV News

Reader Comments:

Comment by: darren (pittsburgh) Sun., Jun. 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm EDT
i host a growing safe sex venue for men:
www.daburghjacks.com
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Comment by: JoeCool (Long Beach, CA) Sun., Apr. 11, 2010 at 8:27 pm EDT
Thanks! Very helpful.
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Comment by: Billy Williams (Saint Paul, MN) Thu., Feb. 25, 2010 at 4:34 am EST
It kills me to see videos posted like this. So many people are getting infected by people who attend these type of parties. Poz people are barebacking for other poz guys; and it suppose to be better. You can re-infect each other over and over again. No wonder so many guys are in the hospital or dying because they viral load is so high. Body.com why would you even let people post stuff like this on your site. This site suppose to help people who are dealing with HIV, not promote more risky sex behavior. Who cares if its a blog, their should be rules on what you can post and can not.
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Comment by: Jonathan (San Francisco, CA) Fri., Feb. 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm EST
Well done episode. Here in S.F. there are a number of sex clubs, though none operate an exclusive hiv pos night. However, it has seemed to me on more than one visit that looking around- it appears as the bus from Sun City retirement center had pulled up to drop off residents. Thus, I've presumed the older generation is fully aware of what and how STIs are transmitted and conduct themselves accordingly....

PS- I've always wondered at the end of your "My Fabulous Life" video clip intro...do you safely land after jumping up and clicking your heels in the park?
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Comment by: River (Italy) Tue., Feb. 2, 2010 at 7:42 pm EST
To be really honest... I do not think that serosorting is about preventing negative people from getting infected. It could actually be a good "side effect" but I do not see any altruism in it. It all seems just another way to simply practice bareback sex which is, for all the obvious reasons, totally not recommended! Poz people like me are normal human being, with their rights and duties. It is our duty to not spread the infection and always practice safe sex when we're with a poz partenr or a negative partner. A poz person' health can still be very much affected by reinfection or other diseases. Why don't we see this as a harming practice? Do we consider ourselves less entilted to lead a healtier life? I personally find it humiliating and segregating. What about negative people's responsability? They also have the duty to protect themself and the others since I believe that 80% of all so called negative people can't be 100% sure that they're truly negative. So if every poz person and every negative person act responsibly and practice safe sex, where is all the difference between positive and negative? If everyone feels responsible for his own health and his sex partner's aren't we ultimately just doing the same thing: preventing the spread of the disease? We have to take care of our health as we would with the health of a negative person. We are not "damaged goods". We have a disease that can be controlled and is less mortal than most cancers! We can potentially lead a healty and successful life so if we ever want to feel better about ourselves and feel again "normal" human being why wouldn't we just start actig like one??
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Comment by: patricio lopez (milwaukee, wisconsin) Tue., Feb. 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm EST
i loved the video
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Comment by: r.olson (washington,dc) Thu., Jan. 28, 2010 at 10:40 am EST
I am so concerned about your statement that you looked around for other + partners so as to have less anxiety and "probably unprotected sex" - do you not have any knowledge of the mutations of the virus that you may have picked up or given?????
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Comment by: Ed (Chicago Area) Wed., Jan. 27, 2010 at 7:07 pm EST
I wish there was a place in the Chicago area for poz4poz play. There are 2 bathhouses and even if you share your status the other guy may not and therefore some guys will become infected.
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Comment by: Pigman (San Francisco, CA) Tue., Jan. 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm EST
You need to start doing some drugs again and get over your uplifting diatribes.
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Comment by: Michael Irwin (London UK) Tue., Jan. 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm EST
Wasn't this simply a commercial for a sex club??
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Comment by: Jose C. (Miami, FL) Tue., Jan. 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm EST
I think what Bill Trimble is doing is an excellent idea and,actually, a necessary one. First off, we ALL are sexual beings and need to express our sexual needs, one way or another. Second, I am poz and there is a TON of discrimination and stigma still attached to our diagnosis and it mostly comes from OUR gay community - yes - other gay men. What this does is put us poz guys further in the poz closet. The end result is that most poz guys end up angry, depressed, frustrated and start to lie about there status. You are going to tell me that the thousands of guys on Manhunt, Adam4Adam, etc claiming they all are negative, really are??? Honey you are lying to yourself or live in a delusional world. I know quite a few men who are poz post ads claiming they are negative and here lies the real problem: fear creates more disease. I wouldn't mind attending one of those parties. Unless you are poz, do you not understand how much pressure that takes off you and you can finally relax! Unless you walk in a poz persons' shoes, you cannot understand what I mean.
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Comment by: will (upstate new york) Tue., Jan. 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm EST
mark, if being in a backroom brought back thoughts of drug use, i would then assume there are men at these parties currently using drugs as well. we all know drugs (alcohol included) take us to places where we do things we wouldn't usually do. it can be lots of fun getting high and having sex but hiv isn't. i appreciate your friends good intentions but i am confused when he says lets get out of the toilets and dungeons and then hostd parties that take place in the dark. have we really come very far when a chair cushion on the floor is supposed to make this all ok. i believe our community has a lot of growing up to do as we take our rightful place at the table and part of that is facing reality.more often than not, drugs=unsafe sex=hiv infection.
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Comment by: Mickey80 (Atlanta) Mon., Jan. 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm EST
This comment is directed at the statement by Marc of Westchester Cty, New York,Thurs Jan7,2010.
I would like to address the possiblity of your partner showing a positive lab result after One Week? post-infection by you. It is highly unlikely for any of today's FDA approved availble (blood) test "on the market" (too include PCR) could pick up viral particle that early post-infection in routine testing. Maybe a MD could weigh in on this. It may not have been all your's to blame.
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Comment by: Jakrabt (Memphis, TN) Mon., Jan. 18, 2010 at 6:40 pm EST
Since I found out in 1985 that I was HIV+, I have always disclosed and only dated other poz guys. We weren't calling it 'sero-sorting' back then, but I have been doing it for 25 years. Having a poz partner, we both understand what it is like having HIV. Negative guys can show empathy, but until you have been there yourself you really don't know what it is like. I would never want to live with knowing I infected someone else.
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Comment by: Jakrabt (Memphis, TN) Mon., Jan. 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm EST
Since I found out in 1985 that I was HIV+, I have always disclosed and only dated other poz guys. We weren't calling it 'sero-sorting' back then, but I have been doing it for 25 years. Having a poz partner, we both understand what it is like having HIV. Negative guys can show empathy, but until you have been there yourself you really don't know what it is like. I would never want to live with knowing I infected someone else.
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Comment by: Joseph (Brooklyn, NY) Sun., Jan. 17, 2010 at 11:03 pm EST
please all of you gay guys practice safe sex !
live well and do not give up any shot at happiness by seroconverting and never being known as "gay" again. We the hiv+ can stay alive more, but the stigma and very expensive medicines-for-life remain along with the side effects. Also, rejection is the name of the game with most if not all gay men and that makes perfect sense. I am way sexy and haven't hooked up in my 30s (just turned 40) because i will not terrify the other person about me -- so don't screw up your life and never even feel right kissing again let alone anything else sexual. AND GOD FORBID you get Hep C too SO WEAR CONDOMS AND BE SAFE and don't suffer our fates
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Comment by: Sun., Jan. 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm EST
These are really good poz men,but there are poz men waiting to breed a neg guy and just make him poz.I agree barebacking is agreeiing for it but if u like sex and barebacking its your choice.But these men will make sure you have tear in your ass,bleed and they cut themselves and inject the blood.And they record it and make others lives miserable.
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Comment by: Lucho P (NY, NY) Sat., Jan. 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm EST
Hi Bill!!! Am back from my vacation and getting used to being back in NY... in spite of the cold weather!!!

Really looking forward going to one of your parties in Atlanta! I can't attend your next one, but would love to go either in Feb. or March.

Take care and let's keep in touch!
Lucho
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Comment by: Bill Trimble/POZ4PLAY.COM (Atlanta, GA) Fri., Jan. 15, 2010 at 9:46 am EST
As an HIV+ man, I enjoy and benefit greatly from meeting other HIV+ men whether it be for support, friendship, dating, or sex! I do not think I am alone in that need. It is my belief, given the current climate of fear and discrimination in this country, that many of us are shamed into the HIV closet. Speaking with men worldwide, as I have creating POZ4PLAY.COM, I can tell you that the shame and fear are far worse elsewhere, where men can be thrown out of their families for being positive and even receive death threats. When I created POZ4PLAY.COM, I wanted to build as many tools as possible for HIV+ men, to meet one another. I created THE POZ CODE: The discreet P4P logo serves as visual communicator of HIV+ status, only to those who are “in the know” as to the symbol’s meaning. It comes in a variety of colors, many fused with the gay hankie codes. This is a tool of empowerment, using a tried and true system of “codes” already used by gay men for decades. My FREE Online Profile Codes, are used by inserting them into the text of a personal profile: P4PBB means you are HIV+ and bareback, P4PSS denotes Safer Sex, and P4P means safer sex or barebacking is up for discussion. My FREE links to “POZ CHAT NOW” and “BE ONE CITY PERSONALS“. If men want dating, intimacy, friendship or sex, they can seek it, in an all POZ format. The Once-A-Month “THIRD WEDNESDAY” POZ4PLAY PARTIES in Atlanta: As I have stated, my parties are not for everyone, but for those who choose to attend, they are a HOT, FUN, and FREEING, real world experience where condoms are freely provided. The events are alcohol and drug free, and we work very hard to maintain a clean, safe space for our guests to enjoy. Thank you for the lively debate. I appreciate the support, and invite my critics to please visit my website, or attend one of my parties, to discover the truth about POZ4PLAY.COM. Respectfully, Bill Trimble HIV+ Founder POZ4PLAY.COM
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Comment by: Trevor (RSA) Fri., Jan. 15, 2010 at 1:37 am EST
I agree that disclosure is essential and never negotiable.

I don’t think bare backing is ever a good idea because of the risk to both parties even if both positive and undetectable on ARV’s. Even sero-negative partners should in my view take into account the window of sero-conversion.

HIV replicates astronomically quickly if even slightly out of control and so mutations that are ARV resistant are very likely.

According to Prof Racaniello, virology@virology.ws: “because over 1016 HIV genomes are produced daily, thousands of potentially resistant viral mutants arise for any combination of ARVs. The HIV-1 genome can exist as (10 with 6020 zeros) different sequences. In perspective: there are (10 with only 11 zeros) stars in the Milky Way."
So in order to ensure effective control of viral activity and future effectiveness of ARV’s for persons that may still be infected it is essential to keep one’s own virus strains quarantined as far as possible and not to allow even remote re- or co- infection to be possible. For this reason I believe condoms and other safe sex practices are also not negotiable.

I realize that there are risks even with condom use and even though condoms have been given a bad name by those who feel that they take away from the intimacy or pleasure of sexual interaction, I have found that persevering with the use of condoms has made them part of the pleasure!

Partners who really care for one another will be willing to experiment with different condoms and I have found that many condoms actually begin to enhance the experience for both partners if used optimally. It can be a way you show someone you care deeply.

I don't presume to persuade anyone that I am correct but hope that if you are in a similar situation you will at least be aware of an alternative way of thinking to sero-sorted bare-backing and it can work for you. It does for me.
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Comment by: thezak Tue., Jan. 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm EST
How widespread is the strategy?... of
"Let's get tested 2GETHER B4 we have sex,
for A VARIETY of STDs."

Do sexual health checkups reduce ambiguity and can they be like anything else POTENTIAL sex partners do together?

see also
http://notb4weknow.blogspot.com
http://continuedat.blogspot.com
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Comment by: Dan (San Diego, CA) Tue., Jan. 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm EST
The content presented, while it may be interesting to many, seems more than a little dated. Serosorting is a term and strategy that began getting popular several years ago. As a harm reduction technique, it is effective for people who are positive to not affect others. I believe it is irresponsible to not present that it is incredibly ineffective and dangerous for negatives to do the same. Due to the number of people who do not know their status and the window period for antibody production, thus positive test results, serosorting for negatives does nothing but contribute to the spread of this disease.
I have been HIV positive for 20 years and agree that having sex, either protected or unprotected, with someone else who is HIV positive takes the stress and concern of the possibility of infecting others. I have also been in two significant relationships with HIV negative men since being positive. They are both still negative. I am grateful that they and I were able connect and not limit our relationships based on similar sero-status.
I do want to commend you for putting this together to help further open, honest discussion about what choices men are making about sex and helping to foster further discussion.
Peace, Dan
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Comment by: Giovanni (Chicago) Mon., Jan. 11, 2010 at 7:37 pm EST
Modest estimates inicate there are more than a million people living with HIV in the united states and half are unaware of their status.

Just because someone thinks they are negative, doesn't mean they are negative.
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Comment by: Harvett (East Cleveland, OH) Mon., Jan. 11, 2010 at 12:05 pm EST


Mark King, Maybe there is something wrong with me, but you can contract something even if you are not HIV+, you can contract other diseases; and let us not forget parasites. I have a question for you, " Now would you touch me If I tell you that I have roundworm and you have tapeworm?"
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Comment by: Ted (Louisville, KY) Sun., Jan. 10, 2010 at 2:32 am EST
I get different answers on super-infection. Some say it happens all the time and other docs like on thebody say it is very rare and unlikely to cause meds issues if you were re-infected. So, I don't know what to believe. Something just occurred to me for the first time. What if some other HIV type virus came along? What if there is some new virus just waiting to get spread? What if it is like HIV in the early 80's--no meds and certain death? I was diagnosed one year ago. I believe people should be able to do what they want as long as they don't hurt anyone else. This brings me back to things docs have told me. They say if I don't take my meds properly and get resistant, I can pass the resistant strain on to someone else. So, I could be hurting someone way down the line if I were having unprotected sex. But as I said, other docs will say that is extremely rare. I just wish the experts would decide whether super-infection is likely or not. It would seem if ya got HIV once, you could get it again and a different strain.
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Comment by: Derek (Chicago) Sat., Jan. 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm EST
In the last year I've had two poz friends become infected by Hep-C because they had unprotected sex. Both were tops and into rough stuff - the bottoms blood infected them via the urethra most likely. Hep-C is treatable in a minority of cases - but the year of interferon is really painful. And if you don't cure it Hep C can cause several fatal diseases over time.

The fatal flaw with serosorting is the idea that HIV is the only STD in the world - and that there will never be a new untreatable STD.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Please use those condoms - they might not be as fun but they are a small thing with big results for the health of our community.
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Comment by: Sid (Canada) Sat., Jan. 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm EST
As a newly Poz guy I love the idea of still having a sex life while reducing the possibility of infecting neg guys with what has been the most difficult happening in my life. Face it; no one Poz sets out to infect others unless they are psychopathic. That said, barebacking is still a very scary concept to me. Despite using condoms I ended up Poz (yes I guess somehow something went awry). I'd liek to suggest that we go even further with the label system (P4P) and include P4SP - Poz for Safe Play. I have only ventured out once two years after my diagnosis to seek sex. I looked for a POZ partner - met him - explained I wanted safe play - started to have a great time - was told if I wanted to continue he expected bare backing - i left. Just as the concept of serosorting allows us to make fair decisions based on our status - lets take it further and show further preferences - BB or Safe.
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Comment by: Sid (Oklahoma City, OK) Fri., Jan. 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm EST
Love the club set up...Been there done it in the 70's, the 80's, the 90's yet I've been always aprehensive about meeting someone first hand and interested in sex and I tell them I'm poz, the dynamics change immediately. After dealing with the entire gamut of should I tell them...should I not and play safe...should I asked them if they are poz? I recently stopped dating because I meet so many guys that are HIV neg that want to date me and I feel I am ultimately responsible for the safe sex part...I've been HIV poz 24 years experienced every stigma conceivably possible. The choices I have made to continue my survival as a poz man have been all up to me. POZ4PLAY is about choices we ourselves still can and will make.
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Comment by: Mathombi (South Africa) Fri., Jan. 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm EST
I see your point Mark, but aren't we forgetting the risk of acquiring new hiv strains that are maybe even stronger. I still think it is risky as eliminating re infection by new strains must take priority.
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Comment by: James (Los Angeles, CA) Fri., Jan. 8, 2010 at 11:52 am EST
First, I must admit that I think that the idea or actions taken through serosorting are very good...Yet, all of those "supposedly" neg people really don't know what their real status could be at any current moment, and as people said in other posts above..."people just damned lie" and are in total denial. I was with a man for several years; first were tested in a six month window (being monogamous to each other)...Well, after our neg. tests we had unsafe sex four or five years. I myself was in my mid-twenties and never strayed, then, he broke with me to, as he said, "screw other men"...? I was devastated. He also told me he had a sexual addiction problem...I still remained neg for years and it was through my own "using condoms and not using them" that I finally seroconverted years later...So foolish to think (then) that I could use my intuition and the look of someone's appearance to make this "life" decision...? Crazy... Today, I believe in serosorting still (and statistically it keeps others non poz people safer), however, I still check my partners (openly)for current health problems, i.e., canker sores, rectal bleeding in myself and him...all sorts of little annonying things, but i would sure rather be with a pozman,however, have been with negmen...when they don't go running...haha I love those new ad aimed and the older guy, and minority, saying, "Are you Man enough"...re: getting tested. Greeting to all. Bye, James
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Comment by: Bradley (Michigan) Fri., Jan. 8, 2010 at 6:56 am EST
Serosorting sounds exciting and quite adventurous. However, doesn't it open the door for HIV disclosure laws to be broken? How do you determine if someone is positive? Are these guys voluntarily sharing their diagnosis? Albeit the ideal is innovative, there seems to be some concern about reinfection and newly infected. With the continued increase in infection rate amongst MSM's, this may be useful, but also harmful in the long run. Like many things, everything has its risk when dealing with HIV/AIDS. I applaud Mark's tenacity to spearhead with such an endeavor, but I believe undercovers are stacking out the place and taking names, merely to assure no one is violating the law; be careful boys. But have fun!
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco, CA) Fri., Jan. 8, 2010 at 12:55 am EST
Mark, thanks for posting this. I'm glad to see this issue being discussed in an intelligent, dispassionate fashion. I confess that I personally would not engage in unprotected sex with another guy, even if he were also positive, but I think that if poz guys are going to have unsafe sex, it's far better that they have it with one another than with possibly uninfected people. As you mention in the video, though, there are other factors to consider, such as acquiring additional STDs. On balance, I think bareback sex between two poz guys isn't a great idea, but I agree that if barebacking is going to happen, it's best that we keep it "in the family" so to speak.
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Comment by: David Friedman, LCSW (Queens, New York) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 11:31 pm EST
Although the man hosting the sex party in Atlanta says he "promotes" safer sex, the tape is not convincing. Also, serosorting does NOT prevent an HIV+ gay man who is immune to antiretroviral Drugs A,B, and C from reinfecting another man who is taking one of these drugs and then causing the other man to become immune to that drug and have to change his drug regimen. Enough drug changes and the combinations run out for a person, then their lifespan can be seriously shortened. BEWARE of this - any POZ man considering having unsafe sex -whether at a "sex party" or anywhere else, including in your own bedroom.
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Comment by: dingoman aka Jim T (Atlanta) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 9:05 pm EST
I haven't been to any of these gatherings myself and I come from the old school of thought that everyone has a right to live his Life the way he wants, providing he is causing no harm to others. I see too many judgments being made against others within our own community on issues like this and barebacking - we've had to live our lives being judged by mainstream society and then we do it to each other. These folks who are offering a safe place for poz men to play are not going to allow open drug use to happen on their premises - I don't know these guys but I am willing to bet, like anyone else, they are not going to risk losing their assets by allowing drug use. Most people who use drugs usually do it behind their own closed doors - there are many (gay and het) who are stupid enough to do drugs in bars, bathhouses, etc. When they're caught they're always bounced out the door. Everyone, poz and neg, also has a personal responsibility to insure they are not passing on hiv and other stds. People have choices and whatever choices one makes, he or she has to live with the consequences of the actions they make in Life.
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Comment by: John (Los Angeles) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 7:30 pm EST
Sign me up! I support the effort. I wish they would promote the same in LA.
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Comment by: Tony S (Atlanta) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm EST
I have been to all of Bill's monthly parties and I will tell you they have been a lot of fun. I have actually made some good friends, thanks to these parties. It's a very relaxed, safe atmosphere and the zero tolerance drug policy is very strict, so the nay-sayers who think "sex club = drug use" couldn't be more wrong. Just because a man is gay and goes to a sex club, does not mean that he does drugs and I can't believe someone would be stupid enough to suggest that. I know that one guy did make it past the front desk and it soon became obvious that he was definitely on something, but he was quickly escorted right back out of the building. It's also very important for some to be reminded that serosorting does not equal barebacking. Bill simply acknowledges that we are all adults and should be responsible to make our own decisions. There are plenty of condoms on site during the parties, but Bill can't be everywhere to put them on every guy who comes in the door! Hmmm, perhaps an added service? haha
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Comment by: Chad (Atlanta) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 6:50 pm EST
I think that this is a great idea for HIV+ men. It is not necessarily just a hook up party. There is a really relaxed large room where people can talk and sit they do not have to have sex. Being positive myself,I know how hard it can be meeting guys. I will not date a negative man. I have seen a lot of bashing of this event on here, but no one has offered an alternative solution. This party removes the fear of rejection because of HIV status. Atlanta does not have a Gay community center, it can be a very cold place to live. Thank you Bill for creating such a wonderful and safe environment for all the Poz guys.
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Comment by: Mark (NYC) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 6:33 pm EST
Serosorting may be an option for HIV+ men, but the problem is that many, many HIV- men also attempt it. They can't! There is no way to "serosort" out all men with HIV. Up to half of new infections are from men who think they are negative but who are actually positive. We have to let people know: serosorting is ONLY for HIV+ men.
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Comment by: Marc (Westchester County, NY) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm EST
I am HIV+, and always hated having to lean against a possible partner's ear to say: "I am HIV+, what is yuour status". It took a little courage to go out there and ask and risk rejection, but I also ended up rejecting others becaue they were HIV-.

Bill's venue in Atlanta allows men to not have to go through that extra step to insure that they are not infecting someone new with HIV.

Regarding re-infection with other HIV strains, it has become more and more apparant that men who have been HIV+ for over a few years and who are not using immunosuppressive drugs (like crystal), appear unable to be infected my a different strain. One peer-reviewed study followed HIV+ couples who each had different HIV strains and who did not practice safe sex with each other (or with outside partners). NONE of these partners acquired their partner's HIV strains, despite living in a high risk environment. Here's that study (there are others):

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10744.php

I HAVE been to Bill's parties when they were hosted in NYC some 4-8 years ago.

Regarding condom use and HIV prevention, I am living proof that that specific strategy also has some risks (albeit greatly reduced). I was infected by my late partner, who was HIV+, when during a receptive sex session the condom tore. I weeks later I tested positive and both of us were devestated. I NEVER want to be part of infecting anyone myself, and I won't have sex with a HIV- man even with a condom.

While I am now in a monogamous long term relationship (of course with another HIV+ man), its nice knowing that spaces exist elsewhere for other HIV+ men to play with less risk of infecting HIV- men.

Thanks, Bill, for hosting this event and venue and thank you, Mark, for covering this.
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Comment by: Craig (Atlanta) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 4:56 pm EST
To quote LaTour "People are still having sex!" This party is held at a clean establishment and, I love the concept. It is a yoga studio by day and sex club by night.The club promotes getting rid of shame and guilt around sex.This is not a toilet or a bathhouse. Lets be honest websites like Manhunt would not be in business if gay men weren't hooking up.This is a party for HIV+ men who wish to meet or hook up with other + men. They can choose whether to bareback or not.Condoms and lube are provided. This is a far better option than going to a dirty bookstore. Until this party started I felt really alone and that there was no one else like me in Atlanta.
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Comment by: Jose (Miami, FL) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm EST
While reading this piece and the comments following, all I can think of is the phrase "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Those very people against sero-sorting are the first ones on Craigslist, manhunt, etc. claiming they are negative and are seeking negative only BUT they, themselves, have never been tested nor care to be and these are the very people who are spreading the disease. Serosorting is "containment" of the disease among consenting adults. As someone who is poz it takes off a tremendous stress off.
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Comment by: Rick (Doylestown, PA) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm EST
If your viral regimen is controlling the HIV strain you're infected with, it may not control as well a different strain that you become infected with via unprotected sex. From a purely personal health standpoint, I'd rather have my body only dealing with one viral strain than who knows how many. Can we get an HIV doc to weigh in here on this issue?
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Comment by: Jose (New York) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 3:19 pm EST
Woh, sound good to be free to have sex on your own terms, however are we forgetting the possibility of HIV re-infection with certain HIV medication resistance and taking those that could benefit from such medication the ability to live longer...Sex is good and beautiful but can be risky when we not take into consideration the long term effect of our actions.
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Comment by: Hudson (Chicago, IL) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 3:19 pm EST
Grown adults have to make decisions for themselves and instead of bashing this man's efforts because gay men are having sex and they always will he should be applauded for getting them talking and even more so applauded for getting them off there computers. STDs exist everywhere are people listing there STDs on adam4adam you have to learn to do what is best for you stop trying to have someone hold your hand when it comes to making wise sexual decisions because they are for you to make no one else.
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Comment by: Sonia G (Providence) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm EST
Are we not worried about creating resistant strains of HIV?
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Comment by: Geo (San Francisco) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm EST
Wow. Well, I'm not intending to be judgmental here, but wasn't rampant unprotected sex in sex clubs and bath houses one of the things which jump started this epidemic? (Answer: yes, it was. I was there. !970's and 80's, New York City, St. Mark's Bathhouse, The Saint, et al. I feel lucky to be alive to tell about it.) All of that aside, perhaps there is some validity to "Poz Serosorting." But the concept of "Negative Serosorting" is a fantasy, a fallacy, an act of denial, and an act of supreme recklessness. Because, as we all know, a huge percentage of HIV positive gay men do not know they are positive. Or are not truthful. Even if "Negative Serosorters" took a Rapid Test prior to sex every time, it would not validate the concept of "Negative Serosorting." Because, as we all also should know, there is a window period. Having been around for a long time, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the downturn in sex clubs and bathhouses during the 80's and 90's went hand in hand with reducing the number of exposures. Sure, we all still had sex. Sometimes unprotected. But having sex with one partner in an evening was less risky than having sex with 10 in one evening. (Do the math.) Bottom line, the virus does not care if the floor is nice or the ambiance is upscale . . . it's going to spread if the sex is unprotected. Perhaps the weekly Poz Party is a fine idea. (Reinfection or other std's aside.) So that's one night per week when serostatus is a "sure thing." That leaves six other nights, however, when it's business as usual. Yeah, group sex and sex clubs were exhilarating. I remember them well, and with some nostalgia. I also remember New York City and San Francisco in the '80's, and going to multiple memorial services per week. And upon that, I do not look back with nostalgia. As a community, have we learned nothing from the past? People will always have unprotected sex, but as a community shouldn't we be encouraging a healthier mindset?
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Comment by: wessel (south africa) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm EST
no never should you have unprotected sex with another hiv person you create a stronger virus
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Comment by: David (Los Angeles) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 10:23 am EST
ON SEX CLUBS: I find a lot of the remarks too judgmental to be helpful to prevention efforts. You can lecture about "health" and "intimacy" all you want but sex clubs exist and will continue to. The Poz Party host recognizes this and has created a venue that reduces the risk of a negative person being infected and for that he should be applauded, not receive tacky remarks about dressing up pigs. Good luck keeping men from being pigs; at least this party actually does something that helps. ON SEROSORTING: I think, as Mark suggests above, that this kind of thing has been happening organically for some time; now it has a name.
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Comment by: Robert Brandon Sandor (NYC) Thu., Jan. 7, 2010 at 7:53 am EST
Mike, one LAST note and I promise never to post here again.

Just an FYI and maybe another BUSINESS to be explored...www.pozmodels.com

Years ago, I was helping two porn producers in Arizona to get this off the ground. I supplied the idea and content, and they would make it happen. The idea was to create a TALENT list of HIV+ gay / straight porn actors (or wanta be's) so the porn industry could hand pick talent for their productions. Thereby, everyone knew in advance who was who, and who would do what, and thus making the porn industry SAFER.

I think the idea didnt make it because back in the day, it was TOO advanced (the idea of Serosorting / Safe Sex Serosorting porn actors). But today, the public opnion is different. However, the two guys never followed through, and the idea (and the site) are up for graps.

Anyone care to take a shot or know of someone who might?

Robert Brandon Sandor
FOUNDER

Back then, and even to today, many of my HIV Prevention 'Strategies" are too advanced. But I'm confident that the world will - one day - catch up.
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Comment by: Mikey (Atlanta) Wed., Jan. 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm EST
I must say that I applaud Bill for having the guts to offer another way for HIV positive men to meet each other and be able to "enjoy each other" without the stigma that comes with being positive in a negative world. I have been to one of these gatherings in Atlanta and have to say that it is a very relaxed, no pressure atmosphere and while yes it is hosted at a "sex club," the atmosphere is one of way more than sex. It's about connection without fear.
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Comment by: Will (Louisiana) Wed., Jan. 6, 2010 at 9:38 pm EST
What an eye-opener! That's a world completely foreign to me, but fascinating. Thanks for the tour. Your blogs are always a must-see that I never miss every month. Keep up the great work!
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Comment by: Robert Breining (Levittown , PA) Wed., Jan. 6, 2010 at 2:09 pm EST
Mark... Very Informative Blog... Like you ,those types of places are not for me as a recovering Addict... and I couldn't even imagine what it felt like sitting there and having all the memories come back.I still have nightmares about those kind of places. I would never attend a party like that but everyone is different and has to make their own choice when it comes down to it. I think that after my diagnosis I discovered there was more to being gay then sex. I don't judge anyone, I just wish there were better solutions for us poz folks.. keep up the great and courageous work...
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Comment by: Robert Darrow (Shreveport, LA) Wed., Jan. 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm EST
Mark,
Thanks for the continuing education courses.
Bobby
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Comment by: Tusk (PDX) Wed., Jan. 6, 2010 at 11:40 am EST
I feel very strongly the way to "control" hiv transmission (and other STD) is to foster and promote healthy self esteem and sexual identity in the gay men's community: i.e."You don't protect yourself unless you like yourself". That being said, I personally would have a problem visiting a poz sex club that would not state a mandatory no recreational drug usage on site rule -- as to not have such precautions invites disaster. Group sex can be very healing and nurturing, but not under the dominion of chemical addiction. This is not to say this club operates this way; hopefully it does not, but we all know human nature and its consequences all too well. I strongly support this endeavor, though, until proven otherwise.
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Comment by: Lee (Atlanta) Wed., Jan. 6, 2010 at 11:03 am EST
Lipstick on a pig. Your sites talk a good game about meeting someone special. Clever marketing too with your wares. Bath houses are now called mens health clubs and talk the same spin. It's still about encouraging anonymous sex. Gay men do need a place to party in. If sex parties are your cup of tea go for it and have fun.

Despite the anti drug policies bath houses have in place there's an abundance of coke and meth in those places. Always has been and always will be. It leads to spreading STDs and HIV.

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Comment by: angels4evertt@hotmail.com (trinidad) Wed., Jan. 6, 2010 at 10:26 am EST
i am a gay rights activist, please b advised my friends its great to hook up with other infected persons, but please be aware of re infection love ya. president ot the angels4 ever foundation
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Comment by: JimS. (Seattle) Tue., Jan. 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm EST
I agree with everything that's been said so far...when he said "we're trying to make this an upscale experience" I had to laugh. It's still group sex that doesn't foster real, healthy, sexual interpersonal relationships. No doubt it attracts a certain percentage of PNP'ers. I'm not against sex clubs, but let's recognize them for what they are-- frequently enabling bad habits like sexual compulsion, binge sex and drug use, and not building social skills and real healthy relationships. Let's not try to dress this up and think it's more than it is....it's the same old thing with nice floors.

BTW, LeannR, we do have a women's spa in Seattle called HotHouse Spa and Sauna. Not exactly a sex club, though-- but right around the corner from Seattle's most popular Lesbian bar (so do the math!)
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Comment by: Robert Brandon Sandor (New York City) Tue., Jan. 5, 2010 at 7:11 pm EST
here is the online version of the PBS Special Episode (on CABLE television)here in New York City to be aired to close to 600,000 New Yorkers

http://www.athandtv.com/serosorting-as-a-harm-reduction-model.html


.
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Comment by: Robert Brandon Sandor, FOUNDER, Serosorting and Safe Sex Serosorting (New York City, NY) Tue., Jan. 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm EST
The sad reality of all this is two fold...

1)Serosorting (and more inportantly) SAFE SEX Serosorting PHYSICALLY break the cycle of NEW HIV transmissions and help make safe sex SAFER. Therefore, mankind can stop HIV in it's tracks.

2)Why stop a virus that so many are making money from? Thereby, creating an "awareness" of sorts - only those who are serious about stopping new transmissions of HIV will Serosort or better still, SAFE SEX Serosort. Which leads us to this factual statement:

The REAL reason why HIV is still here today is due to: Criminal Negligence, Censorship, Discrimination and Accounting Fraud.

WHY are people like Bill providing this HIV Pervention Strategy to the general public, and NOT the HIV Agencies and organizations?

A reminder: Why stop a virus that so many (including the HIV Agencies and Organizations) are making money from $$$$ ?

www.poz4poz.com has more information regarding this.
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Comment by: PSueC (Kansas City MO) Tue., Jan. 5, 2010 at 5:15 pm EST
Fascinating---I've never been in a sex club.
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Comment by: Tom F (Ft Lauderdale FL) Tue., Jan. 5, 2010 at 8:17 am EST
Thanks Mark for this informative as well as controversial topic. To me, the most important aspect of this is to keep the dialogue open to discussing safer sex and harm reduction practices. I applaud Bill for providing a space for poz gay men to meet one another (other than a bar, online, bookstore, public restroom, etc) for socializing and/or sex, depending on what their needs may be. When I was much younger, I used to go to a bathhouse once in awhile but used it as a way to meet a man I was attracted to, get to know him a little socially and then asked him to come home with me. If they were not interested, then I looked for someone else. Of course, my friends thought I was weird as to why I would do that!

As to the safer sex issue, even before I found out I was HIV+, I took the stance of no exchange of fluids anally which does not eliminate the risks of infection, but does reduce it in my opinion. My motto - "on me, not in me" - I guess I like to feel, smell and taste it! The difficulties of discussing our "status" with potential sex partners often has caused many gay men to opt for unsafe sex potentially with HIV negative men, so once again, this serosorting does make sense.

I am in a relationship with a HIV- partner and one thing I hope for is that all of us think about what we want from a partner and whether the HIV status should matter. Before this partner, I had never even considered having a partner who was not positive, however.

Lastly, perhaps having literature on STDs and even an opportunity to test men for other STDS onsite would be something for Bill to consider.

Thanks for keeping us informed and the dialogue open!
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Comment by: Bobby (Minneapolis, MN) Tue., Jan. 5, 2010 at 1:25 am EST
I so appreciated your comment, Mark, about whether or not gay men are "entitled" (I think is the word you used) to having 8 or 10 men piled up in a semi-public room having sex and your revelation that you are seeking something more than that. Aside from the likelihood that other STD's are being spread (Atlanta ranks highest nationally in new syphilis cases among gay men), it seems to me that our community might be better served addressing the core needs and desires (such as intimacy and connection) instead of encouraging anonymous sex. The floors ARE nice. The lobby IS "G rated." But it's lipstick on a pig. And the stark reality is that sex club = drug use. Gay men need an outlet to express their sexuality (especially those of us who have AIDS and have internalized the belief that we are "damaged goods,") but I'm not so sure a Poz4Play sex party is the healthiest or most beneficial channel for that expression.
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Comment by: Leann r. (Atlanta) Mon., Jan. 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm EST
Thank you Mark for not only informing me on such a sensitive topic but actually making me jealous.... As a part of the lesbian community I always found myself fascinated with the bath house scene.... Although I managed to tour a few in my day...I never found one for girls...I'm truly an advocate for sensible & safe sex and I'm very pleased with your candor and honesty. I have had a backstage pass for many of your performances in real life and I am proud to be a groupie....now if we can get the meth out of the sex....it would be a much safer sexual planet...loving you always one day at a time.
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Comment by: Robert M (Loris, South Carolina, USA) Mon., Jan. 4, 2010 at 7:25 pm EST
Impressive. Personally, when one is truly impotent, & lacking any libido, (me), my opinion on this is purely theoretical.

As an ex-RN (disabled/oxygen/HIV, etc.), re-infection with a strain that might be resistant to one's meds is always a nagging thought in the back of my mind. (I guess the RN in one never fully dies out, no matter how long ago they practiced nursing!)

Aside from that, I would be totally for it, personally, & if I were up to it (no pun intended), I'd be right there enjoying it on a vacation!
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Comment by: Charles (Atlanta) Mon., Jan. 4, 2010 at 6:34 pm EST
Wow! Thanks for taking me to a world I've never been and learning more about sero-sorting. Why isn't an episode like this on "In the Life"????
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Comment by: Kristen King (Shreveport, LA) Mon., Jan. 4, 2010 at 6:30 pm EST
Uncle Mark - this is really interesting. I've never heard of serosorting, but what a concept! It seems like a responsible thing to do for those with HIV, but you were right to ask about STDs that can still pose a danger. Love You.
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Comment by: Ben (Ft Lauderdale, USA) Mon., Jan. 4, 2010 at 6:29 pm EST
The most informative sexual education piece since Woody Allen's pre-battle STD play in "Love and Death." A puckish satire of modern day mores! (Seriously, it's interesting to watch this status segregation develop. And I don't think I've ever toured a club like this... with the lights on.)
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VIDEO BLOG:
My Fabulous Disease


Mark S. King has been an active AIDS activist, writer and community organization leader since the early 1980s in Los Angeles. He has been an outspoken advocate for prevention education and for issues important to those living with HIV.

Diagnosed in 1985, Mark has held positions with the Los Angeles Shanti Foundation, AID Atlanta and AIDS Survival Project, and is an award-winning writer. He continues his volunteer work as an AIDS educator and speaker for conferences and events.

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