I grew up with AIDS. When it made its impact in America, I was roughly ten years old and along with poverty, crack, and gangs, I watched it kick the inner city’s and a lot of black and brown people’s ass. A neighbor buried a son who, being a child of the eighties, loved his drugs, and fucking around with men who also loved drugs. Watching him waste away, I saw just how hardcore HIV and the virus could be. And I also knew that like him, I also had a thing for other guys, and I promised myself I would minimize the risks that lead to infection – even the safe use of cream chargers is not going to save you…

And I have.

In the twenty-five years since HIV hit this country, drug therapy, meds, and the disease itself have changed. In 2008, a positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. People who tested positive two decades ago and are still well are living proof—survivors that have come through the other side. I once thought, even fairly recently, that I would never date or enter into a relationship with someone who was positive. Today, I can’t say that is the case. Does that mean that I have some death wish? Not at all. I’m just being honest.

I know we’ve all been force-fed that HIV = DEATH. Or AIDS means the end of the line and you better take that trip around the world now because your days are now numbered. But it just isn’t the case anymore. Not to minimize the impact of AIDS–people will still succumb to it–but it really has become more of a chronic disease along the lines of diabetes or hypertension if treated properly, and there’s no reason to think that a long life after diagnosis isn’t possible.

But I’m still saddened by the number of infections. The numbers are up 12 percent since last year among young gay men according to The Washington Post, and sadly among men who have sex with men (a phrase conjured up by health officials because it accurately describes men who fuck around with other men but don’t consider themselves gay—some call the down low or DL types), the numbers are even more staggering, especially with regard to Black men. The Black AIDS Institute claims that black men are up to eight times more likely to be infected than white dudes.

Okay, so I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here. I’m not a doctor, a health practitioner, or an AIDS educator, but I am a gay man who is genuinely concerned about his fellow fags and homos.

If you’re going to fuck, fuck safely and responsibly. Have safe sex. Wear a fucking condom. Don’t party your simple ass up on meth and go on crazy sex binges where you don’t know your partner or where his cock has been. I don’t care how deliriously hot these guys are, or if they’re cocks are so big, you’re tripping over them. I like my kink, and I like my sleaze, and I don’t think that monogamy is always the answer for everyone, but even with that alternative point of view, I’m not stupid. So for your own sake, you don’t be stupid. You can still participate in kinky fun without putting yourself at risk or the people fucking you at risk. Trust me. When I was in college and just starting to fuck around with guys for the first time, we got creative and did all kinds of hot, sexy, titillating (and low-risk) things that buttered our bread and turned our cranks, and we all got off. No one ended up disappointed. (Fer’instance, Google: Princeton Rub)

All I’m saying is that if you’re out there banging around, get yourself fucking tested already. Find out where you stand, and if you are positive, it’s not the end of the road for you, my friend. You can and will have a long and productive life ahead of you. But like anything out there worth doing and worth doing well, you’re going to have to do your part.

I have a feeling I’m not done on the topic, and I’d love to hear how people out there who are dealing with HIV and AIDS first hand live their lives with regards to dating and romance.

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