No other word in the english language strikes quite as much fear in my heart as those four little letters. I honestly believe this to be true of most any gay man living just about anywhere in the world. We’ve all seen movies like “Philadelphia” where the promiscuous gay man gets AIDS and dies a slow and painful death. We’ve seen the lesions that form, and the way that their bodies wither away.
AIDS and HIV (which are the same thing) can almost be likened to the Black Death of our time. Millions have died at the hands of that smallest of viruses, and while there have been some major advancements, there is still no cure. When my mom was growing up, and AIDS was on the rise, people thought it was the “Gay Cancer”; the medical world went so far as to call it GRID (gay-related immune deficiency).
I’m a fairly rational person, and I know that today having HIV/AIDS isn’t the death sentence that it once was. I know this, and yet I can’t help but think of it that way. The virus, in my mind, is a tiny grim reaper that floats around in other people’s bodies just waiting to jump out and get me.
My fear of the virus though, does not consume my every waking thought. In fact I think my fear is an altogether healthy thing. Because I fear the virus, I am hyper vigilant about safe sex practices in all their various forms. I have never, and will never, slept with anyone without a protective barrier. I get tested every 3 to 6 months, and prefer my sexual partners to have been tested as well.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s alright to be afraid of the virus, but never let that fear overrun your life. Embrace the fear and let it help to make you a safer, more diligent person in regards to your sexual activities. I know it has definitely served to keep me safe, and never fear telling my partner that age old saying, “No glove, no love.”