I think one of the problems with safer sex is that it’s become waaaaay to closely connected with condom use. Sometimes the two seem almost inseparable. What’s up with that?
My negative partner was checking out this very web site the other day with his usual eagle eye and stopped at the first question posed by one of the strippers in the Explicit Truth section. (You do know we have strippers, don’t you?) “This answer doesn’t make sense” he said. (He never really did have an eye for strippers. I don’t know what’s wrong with him!)
Here’s the question and response that he’d zeroed in on:
Q: Gay guys are abandoning condoms, True or False.
A: False; Whether we have HIV or not, most of us play safe most of the time. In a 2005 study, 70% of guys reported sex lives with little or no risk of HIV transmission.
That answer is a bit of a non sequitur, so I’m guessing it won’t be just my partner scratching his head on that one. I’m sort of OK with that, though; thinking is always good in my book. But I’m not so OK with the implication that safer sex equals condoms, as if the two terms are interchangeable. That’s clearly not the intent here, I know. In fact this site has a good little section that explains what safer sex can be. You can see that here: http://www.hivstigma.com/safer_sex.php It’s a far more inclusive list than just condom use, and rightly so.
It’s my take that condoms are a bit of a dog as a prevention methodology. Attempts to eroticize their use as a prevention strategy work for some, but clearly not for others. Some guys will tell you that sex feels better without them, that they kill the mood, that they turn Mr Big and Tall in to Misterr Softeee. BUT, despite all this, a tribute to our collective good sense I think, they are still a staple of every gays guy’s night-stand . More often than not they’re used when they need to be used. Or - and I think this is important - many guys find other ways to reduce risk. Collective pats on the backs, folks!
But I do wish we had something better for what some see as our prime defence against HIV. In the mean time, I think it’s productive to question whether condoms are the be all and end all of safer sex.
And while we’re on the subject of finding new prevention technologies, I’ve read a lot about circumcision lately. Don’t get me started about that . . .
By coincidence, I put up a photograph in my office yesterday. (We’re in a new home and still in the decorating phase.) It’s a photo I took at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto of the work of a Brazilian artist who works entirely with condoms. She makes fab dresses out of them, in fact. I like the way how she sees condoms in an entirely different light to the rest of us . . . . .