What do call a gay guy who got infected in the ‘80s? A victim. What do you call a gay guy who gets infected in 2016? An idiot. I don’t mean to be cruel but I’m PISSED OFF. I’ve just had two twenty-something friends turn HIV+. I feel awful for them but at the same time, I’m angry. I just don’t understand why they didn’t have safe sex. I realize they can’t afford PrEP but it’s not like they don’t how to protect themselves—they chose not to. To me, it’s a simple equation: WEAR A CONDOM. Woody, for my own sanity, tell me, why is it so f#&king hard to get people to wear condoms?
—Don’t get it
Dear Don’t Get It,
If people were any more stupid about safe sex we’d have to water them twice a week. But you know what? I agree with your anger but not with your logic. Follow it and you’re a breath away from saying, “If you got infected because you didn’t wear a condom then it’s your fault and you don’t deserve help.” Bullshit. When emergency workers pull out dead or injured people out of car crashes do they blame the victims for not wearing seat belts? Do they refuse to help them?
The standard reasons experts give about rising infections center around Plague Fatigue and misplaced “AIDS Optimism” (believing that HIV’s manageable and a cure is just around the corner), but there’s also a few other reasons:
* Condoms smell awful and feel worse. You know the few times you put a condom on and it felt really good? It’s because it broke. Let’s face it, who the hell wants to use those boner busters?
* Condoms give your d!ck a flat tire. Picture this: You’ve got an erection that priests pray for, a guy who wants you to top him, and a condom. You put it on and go flaccid as a homo at a Playboy shoot. You take it off and… SCHWING! Willy’s ready for the plowing without the protection. So you do it before cooler heads prevail.
* Confusion about condom use. Once, I was advising a rather dim woman who kept getting pregnant. I showed her how to use condoms by unrolling them over a broomstick. “Ahh,” the woman brightened up. A few months later the woman’s pregnant again. I said, “Didn’t you use the condoms?” She says “Yes, every day I unrolled it over the broomstick before we f*#ked.” Trust me, some gay guys have the same room-temperature IQ as this woman.
* “Heat of the moment” lapses. Studies show if you “Date Upwards” (go home with somebody way out of your league) and they don’t want to use condoms you’re far less likely to insist on them. Logic says, “Use condoms, you idiot!” but Central Command, Underwear Division says, “Screw the condoms! He’s so hot I’d bareback him in front of my grandmother!”
*Alcohol & Drugs. Your pants won’t be the only thing around your ankles if you get wasted; so will your judgment.
* The submissive bottom dilemma. If giving yourself over to bigger, more powerful men is part of your erotic trigger, and he doesn’t want to use condoms, you’re in a pickle. Submissives are supposed to take orders, not give them.
* Stress and Depression. If you don’t care whether you live or die, condoms are irrelevant.
* The Cute Factor. Guys assume that the young and beautiful aren’t infected so they cast their condoms to the wind when they hook up with the flat-bellies.
I’ll talk about asserting yourself in vulnerable situations later (along with using PrEP) but for now, put your anger aside. Anybody who gets HIV is a victim, even if their stupidity contributed to the infection. Your friends are suffering. They deserve compassion, not criticism.