My name is B. F. Fanon, I am 28 years old and I presently live in Luceria, the Republic of S. This is a brief recap of how I became HIV-negative.
The human species is curious to begin with. We are guided by instincts or, more precisely I think, a longing, a desire to know how things work, what they are made of, etc. Even more important then that is probably the why-question, which gets us tangled up in enterprises like religion, magic and science, the last of which supposedly in „these modern times“ has replaced the first two but hey! take a look around, from the U.S. Christian right to the religious folks in this corner of the planet… some post-enlightenment claims do not hold as true as they probably should.
At any rate, the point I want to make is that human beings are exceedingly curious. So given the fact that I had unfortunately placed myself in a „risk-group“ [‚placed’ is not the best word, I’m sure you can figure out a more matching one yourself] I became curious, positively anxious, to know if my status of being in the „risk-group“ should be a matter of grave personal concern or not. Though I am not an epidemiologist, I will try to loosely define the type of risk-group I am talking about: young people engaging in occasional u.s.e. Young people is a ridiculously vague term but given that I am 28 [and now and then play ball with teens], have no family of my own yet and feel, primary identity wise, fine with placing myself in the category „young“, let me do so. U.s.e, I just made up, it stands for unprotected sexual episode, a term I could imagine being used by an epidemiologist or reproductive health specialist trying to sound all professional: no acronyms, no professionalism! I guess u.s.e. are not the only thing that can place you in a „risk-group“ but they are a pretty efficient means nevertheless.
Now I can already hear a number of people groaning at the idea of unprotected coitus as though it’s humankind’s second biggest stupidity, being runner up to drunk driving. I politely disagree. Yes, looking on as a safe-sexer or even, looking back in retrospect, it seems quite the silliness to commit but that is putting out of view certain fundamental aspects of „sexual episodes“: spontaneity [and thus possible absence of protection; the weakest argument], lust erosion [occasional incompatibility of condoms and erections], unwarranted trust [an inappropriate estimation of the other person’s at-riskiness based on her/his socio-economic class and outward appearance], willful play with abstracted risk [the infection rate for males seems not that high; the virus has an immensely long latency period; there is medication that potentially can turn it into a lifelong chronic condition, not desirable by any estimation], at last something I think Freud called the death-drive, an irrational will to self-destruction, a giving up of the self.
A friend of mine had asked me why I was playing “Russian Roulette” and the most fundamental answer I could give her was that I wasn’t, that is, unprotected sex does not feel one bit like putting a gun with one bullet in its chambers to your head and it also does not feel like any sort of “death-drive”. It feels like how consensual sex usually does (and should): great, except with that residual feeling at the back of your head of crossing the street while the lights are still on red. Finally, there is also the sense of trusting someone, you want to prove to yourself that you can still trust someone without needing a public authority approved slip that this person’s biomedical status is such and such. You want to trust in the absence of either state or science. To get back to the terminology used in my first, deceptive paragraph, I wanted to believe in the magic rather than the biology of sex. More than once, unfortunately.
I am not stating that this is a good thing, u.s.e, I am trying to start to explain that this is why it happens and quite frequently too if my circle of friends and anecdotal experience is anything to go by.
Anyway, given these couple of u.s.e. and a new relationship and desiring human curiosity, I had to know and the way to know as in most things worth knowing is to give your blood. Now contrary to another widely stated commonplaces being HIV-positive is not a status that is just liberally accepted in our society. If you compare the Republic of S. with, say, South Africa, you notice within no time, that there’s absolutely nobody running around this place in “I am positive, I am proud” T-shirts or anything of the kind. There are no signifiers of openly being positive and I’ve never once heard anybody I know say “yeah, so and so, s/he’s positive”…. Is that probable? That nobody in my extended circle of family, friends and acquaintances has the H.I. virus? I have my doubts. My claim is that HIV/AIDS is still extremely hedged about by taboos and silences so that, I imagine, the folks who actually are positive live warily in a closet.
[…to be continued…]