I like to do a safe sex / bareback poll every year. The reason I do this is that I am fortunate in that as my blog is not targeted to a specific group or issue, I capture a broad cross section of blog visitors. These people represent most of the areas of the gay community.
There are those you use condoms 100% of the time. Some of these ppl change their habits with a long term partner of the same sero status. For those who like condoms 100% of the time - the two below are the ones that I have tried that couple passion and sensation with protection and reassurance.
There are those who bareback to various degrees but not 100%.
This is a valid choice. And I would like to take moment just to point out some of the issues that this entails.
Obviously, aside from the other STI's Sexually Transmitted Infections - if you do choose to bareback - top or bottom - you will eventually catch the virus. Yes it is easier for tops to dodge the virus due to the fact that MOST - but not all - Poz men on meds can achieve non detectable virul loads. This basically means that there is less virus in the body. BUT -there is STILL VIRUS THERE. You can still catch it top or bottom even from someone undetectable.
Then there are those who bareback 100% of the time.
PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO BAREBACK SHOULD NOT BE TREATED WITH SCORN OR SHAMING OR INTERNAL HOMOPHOBIA.
What we should be doing is engaging in conversations about why they bareback. How they negotiate safety or disclose their status - both neg and poz. If neg, why have they conciously chosen to expose themself to a potentially lethal virus.
Now - some of the realities of the consequence of our little friend below..................................
THE HIV VIRUS
Not only does one now have the virus and the serostatus of Positive = POZ in our community (I really dont like that word but its none of my business I guess); but one also has the issue of managing a sometimes complex drug regime as seen below but also the side effects of these drugs.
Some of the side effects include :
HIV treatment can cause side effects for a brief period while it is controlling the virus in your body. Common short-term side effects include:
- Anemia, a problem with red blood cells that may also cause fatigue
- Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
- Dizziness or headaches
- Pain and nerve problems
- A skin rash
- Injection site reactions
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Vivid dreams
These tips may help cope with short-term side effects:
- Fatigue. Try brief naps, cutting back your work schedule, eating balanced meals, and doing gentle exercise.
- Nausea and vomiting. Avoid foods that trigger these responses. Eat some crackers in the morning or try ginger (in ginger ale, ginger tea, or gingersnaps). Eating small meals and cold food may also help. Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. Do not take antacids.
- Diarrhea. Make sure to get plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter anti-diarrhea products that are safe to take.
- Headaches. An over-the-counter pain reliever may help; stay rested, drink plenty of fluids, and stay away from loud noise and bright light.
- Insomnia. Limit caffeine, heavy meals close to bedtime, and daytime naps. Keep a regular sleeping schedule and try relaxing bedtime rituals such as warm baths, warm milk, soothing music, or massage.
- Rashes. Avoid long, hot showers or baths and skin products with alcohol or harsh chemicals. Try moisturizing lotions and sunscreen, and petroleum jelly on dry, itchy areas.
- Injection site reactions. Discuss injection technique with your doctor. Rotate injection sites, warm the medicine in your hands before injecting, and apply a cold pack after an injection.
- Pain or peripheral nerve problems. Wear loose-fitting shoes, soak your feet in ice water, massage them, and try ibuprofen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.
- Dry mouth. Suck on sugarless candies or lozenges or chew sugarless gum. Drink plenty of liquids. Avoid sugary or sticky foods or caffeine.
- Weight loss. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about ways you can maintain a healthy weight. For example, high-protein shakes as well as other products high in protein and low in sugar may be recommended for some people.
Remember: All these symptoms can be signs of an underlying problem unrelated to the HIV treatments. If symptoms are severe, prolonged, or accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, stiff neck, or difficulty breathing, then you need to seek medical attention.
Coping With Long-Term Side Effects of HIV Treatment
Some side effects may last indefinitely or cause serious problems. Even in these cases, there is often a way to manage them so that they are less troublesome. Your doctor can help you with this.
Some of the most common long-term side effects and coping strategies include:
- Fat redistribution. Known as lipodystrophy, this can occur when the body changes the way it produces, uses, and stores fat. You might lose fat in your face and legs and gain fat in your abdomen and back of your neck. Switching medications may keep symptoms from getting worse. But there are few other options for treating this long-term side effect.
- Increases in cholesterol or triglycerides. This can increase the risk for problems such as heart disease. Diet and other lifestyle changes are a first step. Medications such as statins and fibrates may also be recommended by your doctor.
- Elevated blood sugar levels. Exercise, weight management, and other lifestyle changes may help. Your doctor may also recommend other medications to control blood sugar levels.
- Decreases in bone density. This can increase the risk of bone fractures, especially as you get older. Try weight-bearing exercises like walking or weight lifting. Your doctor may recommend calcium and vitamin Dsupplements, or medications to treat or prevent osteoporosis.
- A buildup of a cellular waste product. Known as lactic acidosis, this uncommon issue can cause a wide range of problems, from muscle aches to liver failure. You may need to switch drugs.
NOW THE MESSAGE.....
I do this poll every year for two reasons.
1. I do not APPROVE or DISAPPROVE of barebacking. I approve of INFORMED DECISION MAKING knowing the potential consequences of your acts.
2. Having been active in the original outbreak of the epidemic and losing SO many people, I seek to educate and advise on the consequences of informed decision making and the risk it brings.
I will NEVER shame or guilt someone who barebacks. I may have questions for them, but that is it.
I will never not interact with those who are HIV Positive. It is just a virus. As a Clinical Depressive, I am not easy to deal with. My friends accept that and work with it. I can work with someone's serostatus and more importantly - the person themself.
I will never allow a blogger who uses the words - CLEAN, NEG ONLY, Please no Poz - to remain a blog-acquaintance or friend.
YOUR WORDS AFFECT MORE THAN JUST THE MOMENT.
My love to you all.
Make informed decisions. Know the risks. Weigh it all up and THEN make your decision.
Thank you so much for your time and patronage and input into this issue. It is a very personal one for me and you all honour me with your knowledge, passion and insight.
My love, blessings and prayers for you ALL.