HIV, contamination, and the meaning of sex
Content Warning: homophobia & the early AIDS crisis, STDs, blood, nonconsensual sex, and really just a bunch of lewd sexual stuff in general.
Up until about a month ago I was forced to live in the same town (and, even worse, in the same house) as my parents through lockdown. Alone on a desolate island devoid of gay men to hit on for a full year and a half, waking up every day with the panic that I might have, against all odds, contracted THE VIRUS:
SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19, “Coronovirus”, or “the coof”.
If there was any benefit at all to this forced period of complete chastity, it was that it was an opportunity for a brief reprieve from obsessing over that other virus: whether I was going to get it, how I definitely had it. Rehearsing how I might break the news to my mother while waiting for test results, wondering if the result was a false negative. Calculating in extreme detail the exact odds that a particular sexual encounter had resulted in my infection, never comforted by the fact that the number always ended up being something like 1 in 100 million.
I did not take advantage of this opportunity in any way. Instead, for fun, I decided to comb through an unabridged timeline of the HIV epidemic as it unfolded, to see if it might shed some light on our current situation.
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