Anthony Carter

Love Will Not Keep You HIV-Negative

Filed By Anthony Carter | May 23, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay men, HIV/AIDS, LGBT youth, mental health, monogamy, multiple partners, relationships, sexual health

Most of the HIV positive people I know became infected in the course of a relationship.

hiv-test.jpgAfter talking with a good friend from overseas, I was informed of this incredible theory. My brilliant ally and I discussed at length the risks people are willing to take and for what reason.

The mutually agreed upon theory is as follows: people will take greater risks in the context of a relationship because the assumption is that since we now have added love to the mix, we have more than enough information to trust our paramour.

This is in direct contrast to not knowing or trusting a trick, which means we better be on guard for any bit of foolishness (ours and theirs) that might occur.

Personally, I have been willing to take unbelievable and highly stupid risks with people that I was in "love" with. I have had unprotected sex. I have been lied to and yet was willing to engage in sexual activity with the person lying to me.

I could have easily been affected and was not. My initial HIV test was very traumatic.

After listening to several people tell me that I should be tested, I could find no one to go with me for the long dramatic walk to get tested and receive the results.

I went alone.

One of the main things that I gleaned from this experience was the knowledge that love would not save me. At 23, I was sexually involved with a (positive) partner and was unaware of this frightening reality for a year.

When I found out, I couldn't believe that this was happening.

This frightening reality would prompt my initial HIV test and a complete immersion into the world of smart slutdom. I could have played the victim role and said poor me what will I do now? Blah, blah, blah.

Instead, I obsessively gathered information about how people become infected and how to both prevent infection and not give up sex. In other words, through this horrible incident and life-altering experience, the smart slut emerged.

Here's my advice: Look at and use absolutely everything for your growth and development.

Know that you can be sexually free and socially responsible.

Know that sex is good and is God's greatest creation since chocolate.

Understand that you are not a victim and can consistently and creatively make choices that enhance your life. Familiarize yourself with decisions that allow you to stay healthy, happy, and productive.

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While this is true, I feel like there needs to be a certain level of trust in relationships, so it's important for both parties to be truthful - if you're constantly assuming that your partner may have cheated and contracted HIV, you're never going to be able to build up that trust.

Rick Sutton | May 23, 2011 11:00 AM

"The smart slut emerged."


Mac 'n cheese. Still available if you want to do a road trip.

Channeling my inner smart slut.

Eric Payne | May 23, 2011 11:27 AM

Me and Bill have been together 16 years; this is how the early years of our relationship developed:

1. We played safe for the entire first year of our relationship. Absolutely no exceptions, period. We figured (because we both knew, immediately) if we were going to have a life together, then we had to be alive to do it.

2. After one year of being together, we both tested for HIV. We tested at an "anonymous" testing site; we were never asked our names, when our blood was drawn, individually, we were given a small slip of paper with a pre-printed number on it. After two weeks, we were to return and, upon presentation of that slip of paper, taken individually and had results given, orally, by someone other than the clinician who had drawn blood two weeks earlier. When we got to the car after having our blood drawn, we swapped numbers - I would have his results given to me and he would have mine given to him.

3. Our plan was to only engage in safe-sex, only, for the next year, just to be safe. During that year, someone with whom I'd had a five-year relationship died from HIV-related causes. Since that person had lied to me during our entire relationship - he had tested positive for HIV over a decade before he and I met, but told me he was HIV negative throughout our relationship, only telling me the truth at the end of our relationship (in fact, the revelation was what caused it to be the end of our relationship) - we realized there could be a risk of my having been infected by him that extended further than one year; we decided to continue safe-sex practices for another two years.

4. For a year after that, we practiced what we called, between us, "safer sex." We withdrew from each other as we felt an orgasm approach (aka porn movie sex. Yes, we know it was just as risky as full-blown (pardon the pun) unsafe sex, and we were just "justifying" to ourselves.

After that, condoms became a thing of the past for us; we, still, trust each other that neither of us is engaging in sex with anyone outside the relationship.

I trust my husband, completely. Whether he trusts me as much is a question only he can answer. Neither of us is an "impulsive sex" kind of guy - there are certain little idiosyncrasies in our personalities and interactions when one of us is "getting in the mood" that we've come to recognize and to which we respond.

But a person needs time around another persons to recognize those little quirks, and know where those quirks may lead.

I remember the very first Payneful Realities opinion/slice-of-life column I ever published, in Our Paper, Your Paper in the Bay Area. Written before I met the man who lied to me about his HIV status, that column touched upon the gay "dating" scene, with a line that included: "Before a straight couple has sex (from what I understand from my sisters), there is, usually, a number of dates with increasing physical contact between them; when a gay couple goes on a first date, there is almost the expectation of sex."

I was a little naive when I wrote that, back in the early 1990s. There have always been more restrained gay men. The Queer as Folk's Brian countertype exists, but so does the Michael.

BEFORE having sex get tested TOGETHER for A VARIETY of STDs. Sexual health checkups reduce ambiguity.
Sexual health checkups can be like anything else POTENTIAL sex partners do together. The surgeon washes before operating. Blood is tested before the transfusion. See also

"tested together" alerts