This site has been so full of discussion about sero-discordant sex that it’s kind of odd that we’ve only talked a little about its opposite. Namely sero-sorting.
So that we’re all on the same page, sero-sorting is the practice of guys seeking to have sex with partners of the same HIV status. We’re talking neg-on-neg sex here, or poz-on-poz.
Sounds like a pretty smart harm reduction strategy? Or not?
Sounds like a way to avoid stigma, or perhaps the reverse - a way to propagate it?
Much of the first debate - that harm reduction one - is complicated. Sex usually is. But for guys who are interested in how effective sero-sorting is as a prevention methodology, there’s an interesting piece of research out - a large scale study from Seattle - the results of which you can read here: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/584616
Wade through the legalese - or research-ese - and you’ll find that sero-sorting seems to be on the rise, certainly in terms of poz-on-poz sex. BUT for negs it’s a strategy only partially effective in limiting HIV transmissions, largely because of those highly infectious “neg” guys who don’t realize they are positive, that we’ve discussed many times here. Assumptions gone wrong, in other words. The bottom line seems to be that sero-sorting is a safer strategy than non-concordant unprotected fucking, less desirable than consistent condom use. In other words, proceed at your own risk.
Without sounding too much like a wet blanket - we need to acknowledge that the research doesn’t entirely dismiss the efficacy of sero-sorting, however limited - risk of HIV infection isn’t of course the only issue. The opprtunity to catch up with other STI’s is problematic for sero-sorting poz and neg guys alike, poz guys even more so, actually. (Aside from the viral implications, what poz guy wants a run-in with Public Health when those folks hear even a hint of unprotected poz sex. That can be nasty, I hear.)
For sero-sorting poz guys, there’s all that talk about super-infection too, getting a different strain of the virus on top of your own. Sounds nasty, but want to know what’s the latest on that? Read about it here: http://www.poz.com/articles/hiv_superinfection_couples_761_15984.shtml
All this clinical stuff can be quite daunting to wade through, right? But as they say in the infomercials, “but wait - there’s more“. The other part of the sero-sorting predicament is the stigma angle. By preferring to sero-sort, are you saying something negative about positives?
Is sero-sorting just about avoiding transmission? Or is there more to it? Is it stigma to seek out partners of the same status, or is it just being realistic? If poz guys hate being rejected because of their status, or just want to play safe, is it bowing to stigma to seek out only poz guys for sex? Similarly, is it OK for mr. neg to be looking for mr. right (for tonight) solely in the neg pool?. David talked a little about that already a while back, in a dating context, but I wanted to see if we have any kind of consensus on that as applied to fucking around generally
Tricky business, this sero-sorting thing, isn’t it?