By Eric Ramirez
For the sake of anonymity, let’s call him Richard.
I met this guy a month or two ago. He was a friend of a friend, attractive and an all-around nice guy. Not to mention he had light blonde hair, which I happen to be a sucker for.
We had hung out a few times before “things” happened between us, and when they did I was pretty thrilled. I woke up with a smile on my face.
But a few days later, our mutual friend told me something that completely crushed the confidence high I’d been riding.
“I don’t want you to be scared or worried, but Richard has HIV.”
No matter how hard she tried to ease into telling me, I was scared, I was worried.
And while he did take precautions to ensure that I would not contract HIV, I was furious.
All people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, especially gay and bisexual men, should be aware and honest about their sexual health. Whether it be HIV, gonorrhea or AIDS, sexually active adolescents and adults take on a responsibility when they engage in any form of sexual intercourse.
To ignore that responsibility is not only a poor reflection on the character of those who do not inform others of known STDs or STIs, but it also puts the infected individual’s partner at a great and unfair risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were over 30,000 new cases of men being infected with the virus in 2006 alone. Another study found male-to-male sexual contact accounting for 61 percent of all HIV cases in the country, even though gay and bisexual men account for an estimated 2 percent of the population.
While HIV is treatable, a new drug is on the horizon that could possibly block the disease, it should not be taken lightly, nor should any other STD or STI. Sure, some can be treated and you can go the rest of your life as if it never happened, but there are others that stick with you, forcing you into a routine of pills and uncomfortable moments when you divulge the black marks on your sexual history to a partner.
The best thing you can do is be informed. Know the diseases and infections you are more susceptible to and learn which STDs are asymptomatic. Get yourself tested, know your status and the status of your partner before climbing into bed with them.
The obvious and most foolproof way to ensure you are safe is abstinence. But let’s face it, we are college students. We are young, in the prime of our lives, but that does not mean we have to be stupid about what we do.
Another study from the CDC shows that, from 2006 to 2009, there was a 21 percent increase in incidences of HIV. And 34 percent of those 21 were from gay and bisexual men.
Has our generation lost its respect for one another? Are we lazy? Are we such starving artists that we cannot afford condoms and would rather pay for endless prescriptions and medications?
Wear a condom, use whatever protection you need to. Be honest with who you sleep with. They’ve already seen you naked, so you should have little to hide from them.Contact Eric Ramirez.