When I read about it on Takimag, I thought it was satire, but apparently its real. If I, a straight, white, Christian male, ie a homophobe, acccused the gays of this I would be raked across hot coals and have the skin peeled from my bones before being drawn and quartered. But, appareantly, and against all reason, this is a real thing.
Federal health officials are reporting a sharp increase in unprotected sex among gay American men, a development that makes it harder to fight the AIDS epidemic.
The same trend has recently been documented among gay men in Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Australia, heightening concerns among public health officials worldwide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of men who told federal health investigators that they had had unprotected anal sex in the last year rose nearly 20 percent from 2005 to 2011. In the 2011 survey, unprotected sex was more than twice as common among men who said they did not know whether they were infected with H.I.V.
Being tested even once for H.I.V. is associated with men taking fewer risks, whether the test is positive or negative, health experts say. But the most recent survey found that a third of the men interviewed had not been tested in the past year.
The findings are worrying because “unprotected anal intercourse is in a league of its own as far as risk is concerned,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the disease centers, said on Wednesday as the figures were released.
I told ya that to tell ya this:
NY Times (different article)
Not everyone is terrified of H.I.V. During the 1980s, we came to believe that getting infected with H.I.V. was the worst thing that could happen to you — worse even than cancer. People with AIDS appeared to die rapidly and horribly; not only that, they were regarded as socially dead from the moment they received an H.I.V.-positive diagnosis. The association with sex, particularly gay sex, loaded H.I.V./AIDS with more stigma than almost any contemporary illness.
But now North American gay men have been living with the virus in our communities — and in many of our bodies — for decades. Even before effective antiretroviral medications became available, we learned that HIV is not the most dreadful thing to befall a person. As one gay man put it, “I’ve had many worse things happen to me than being infected with H.I.V.; most of them resulted from long-term relationships, which our society regards with benevolence.” Scott O’Hara, who wrote these words, was one of the first to advocate unprotected anal sex between men, otherwise known as barebacking. Here he suggests that a long-term relationship with H.I.V. might be less toxic or debilitating than a long-term relationship with certain other people.
Public health officials think of barebacking only as a “problem” to be overcome — as the C.D.C. affirmed this week. But in my research on bareback subculture for “Unlimited Intimacy,” I discovered that some gay men are using H.I.V. to create relationships. They think about actively sharing the virus as a way to forge connection. Viral transmission is described by some men in the subculture as “gift giving.” At least since Marcel Mauss, anthropologists have understood gift exchange as a way of making and consolidating relationships, and it is no different with H.I.V. In the idiom of bareback subculture, H.I.V. is the gift that keeps on giving.
This is not what epidemiologists, public health workers or, indeed, most people want to hear. But denying or denouncing the popularity of barebacking won’t make it go away. Plenty of men are having unprotected sex without any wish for viral transmission, paradoxical though that may sound if you still believe that gay men should never have sex without a condom. It is impossible to seek erotic intimacy under a cloud of crisis indefinitely. What I learned in my research is that gay men are pursuing bareback sex not just for the thrill of it, but also as a way to experience intimacy, vulnerability and connection. Emotional connection may be symbolized in the idea that something tangible is being exchanged. A desire for connection outweighs adherence to the rules of disease prevention.
Viewed as socially dead, H.I.V.-positive gay men began to experiment with making their own forms of life through viral exchange. Even as H.I.V. disease slowly has become less stigmatized, it also has come to be eroticized by some members of the world in which the virus is prevalent. It has become a sexual preference, as well as a foundation for kinship, connection and community.
“Barebacking may be understood as an alternative to gay marriage not so much because it authorize promiscuity as opposed to monogamy, but because HIV makes the exchange of bodily fluids homologous to the exchange of wedding rings, insofar as both sets of exchanges confer forms of permanence on their participants. About as far from casual sex as one can possible get, barebacking entails lifelong commitments-commitments more permanent than those of marriage-since what’s at stake is HIV-transmission. By contrast with marriage, straight or gay, what’s exchanged at a “conversion party”-where gay men gather for unprotected sex and to exercie some choice over which man will infect them-what’s exchanged is guaranteed to last a lifetime.
What particularly interests me is how unprotected sex has given rise to a discourse of kinship, based on the idea that the human immunodeficiency virus may be used to create bloodties, ostensibly permanent forms of bodily and communal affiliation.”
He goes on to use the term “elective kinship” to describe this pathological behaviour. And then:
“No longer regarded as outcasts, HIV positive men have become especially desirable in some quarters by virtue of their serostatus. barebacking websites have spawned intriguing new sexual identity categories, such as “bugchasers” and “giftgivers”: bugchasers are thoe who fetishize HIV infected semen and want it inside their bodies; giftgivers are those positive men who are willing to oblige. Based on the model of sperm-donors, giftgivers consenually inseminate other men with HIV. They transmit the virus intentionally rather than inadverdently, and they understand their action as creative rather than destructive.”
This really should be a homophobic joke, but its not.