Monday, December 12, 2005
by Wayne Besen
Every so often a really stupid idea infiltrates the gay community and takes on a lethal life of its own. For example, I don't quite understand how crystal methamphetamine, a.k.a. "Tina", became the club drug of choice. When did staying up for a week without sleep and listening to droning music without lyrics become fun?
Another really dumb idea someone ginned up - probably while tweaking on Tina - is "barebacking," which is glamorizing sex without condoms. "Hey, let's make HIV infection sound like a night at the rodeo!"
The latest harebrain notion to toxically slither into the gay vernacular is "condom fatigue." This is the theory that the rules for safer sex have to be reinvented because people are fed up with using prophylactics. Proponents say that a "Just Say No" approach to unprotected sex is impractical. "I think in reality, people don't like using condoms, and we don't talk about this a lot," Atlanta HIV educator Malik Williams told The Washington Blade
Well, I don't particularly like stopping for red lights either because it tends to slow me down. Nor, do I like pausing at crosswalks for rumbling trucks. Let's not forget seatbelts - they totally suck. And riding a motorcycle with a helmet keeps the wind from freely blowing through my hair. I'm also over the gym and would prefer that the government declare TV watching an aerobics sport and cheese fries a food group.
Unfortunately, there are laws of nature and common sense that can't be defied no matter how annoying or cumbersome. However, this hasn't stopped some well-intentioned prevention experts from trying.
Williams went on to tell the Blade that if someone has unprotected anal sex five times a week and then chooses to replace one sexual encounter each week with oral sex, "this is a success story."
I'm sure Williams is trying to do the right thing and should be commended for working to find innovative solutions from a place of care and compassion. I'm not convinced, however, that playing Russian roulette with one bullet instead of two will lower the HIV infection rate. This idea that we can run every other red light will weaken the overall prevention message and allow people to justify potentially deadly transgressions.
There are those who would argue that my approach isn't realistic because the HIV rate is not significantly going down, even though we've known how the virus is transmitted for more than two decades. I respond by pointing out that the glass isn't half empty. The condom message has reached tens of millions of people who do practice safe sex.
Instead of promoting irresponsible strategies that will compound the epidemic, here are a few practical steps that will reduce HIV:Repetition:
People need to be constantly reminded that wearing condoms is the norm and the expectation. Advertising should be ubiquitous with the message: "No Bag, No Shag." Positive reinforcement is crucial to limiting new infections.Availability:
It isn't the 70's anymore and most people go to the bar to meet-up with friends, not hook-up with strangers. So, when connections are made they are often spontaneous and neither partner has emergency gear. This is why bars and clubs - gay and straight - should make condoms and lubrication widely available. Easy access helps people make the right decisions and protect themselves.Stop Lying:
Sex does feel better without a condom. One-night stands can be really pleasurable and emotionally satisfying. Drugs can sometimes enhance sexual pleasure. Telling people that they didn't have as much fun as they know they did is remarkably counterproductive. When we lie about these simple truths, we undermine our credibility and become part of the problem. The message should be: Yes, these activities are fun, but they can also be fatal. Is it really worth your life or the aggravation of drug cocktails? If we talk to people like adults, they often act like adults. Have A Plan:
Take a moment to create a safe sex strategy. Think about sexual boundaries. For example, if you can't handle your alcohol, make a rule that you won't go home with someone if boozing. Having such boundaries is key because negotiating them during the heat of passion often leads to bad decisions. Trust:
Don't trust the guy you just met on the Internet. If he lied about his penis size, what makes you think he's telling the truth about his HIV status?
People are human and will make mistakes. None of us are immune to letting our guard down. Instead of complaining about condom fatigue, we should put on fatigues and declare war on unsafe sex. Where the rubber meets the road, there is still no safer alternative for sexually active people than condoms.
Totally agree to Wayne.
It is beyond dispute that sex is much better without a condom. However, I think whether it is a good sex or not, it is totally not depend on the little condom thing, instead it is depend on the two ppl's feelings. If they love and care each other, I am sure there is the endless pleasure even with a condom.
Wearing a condom is not only protect yourself, but also the symbol of caring your lover. It is not worth to chase that short term pleasure and then take a risk to get the life long disease...
If u love yourself and care your partner, just go back and wear your fxxking condom.
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