Friday, January 23, 2009

Question For Friday: Incurable STDs

I got a lot of great responses to this week's Question for Friday. Just to review, this was it:

Question: would you date someone with a long term, incurable, non-HIV STD like herpes and/or genital warts?

And, a corollary, would you have sex with someone (let's assume short term -- maybe really short term relationship) with a long term, incurable, non-HIV STD like herpes and/or genital warts?

So, how do you think people answered?

  • Dr_Jared, a little bit of fabulousness out of Alaska that I know on Twiter: "depends on the affected area of the body that is inflicted, and how to prevent further spread. Yes"
  • JaytheBigLug, fabulous local queer blogger and a long time friend of mine in the city: "depends on the person- do they 'trump' the affliction?" AND "I'd like to think I'm noble enough to overlook such things... I'm probably not when it gets down to it, though. Few are."
  • VeganJacob, somewhat liberal born again Christian and all around beautiful woman (and Cincinnati blogger): "wow. that's a loaded question. i've actually thought about it and i think TRUE/unconditional love really conquers all"
  • ArtsyGemini, Twitterer and local photog, gives his abbreviated opinion: "no"
  • Brandonlacycamp, who I, honestly, just started paying attention to on Twitter and runs a blog himself: "As a person living with HIV I would be hypocritcal to say no."
  • From Daniel D. via Facebook: "If you have an intrest in the person there are many ways to work pass this issue, so I would day yes"
  • From Ray N. from Facebook: "because love is stronger than any freakin disease....just be safe. love the one your with...."
  • From Paul B. from Facebook: "First off very good question. And my answer is no. Sadly, it would always be on my mind whenever I was with that person. I wish it didn't bother me, but it does."
  • From Montgomery Maxton via text message: "Btw I think itd be hard to date someone with herpes." (FOLLOW UP) "It's a tricky std."
  • Update, forgot to put on JereKeys' response: From local queer blogger and twitterer, JereKeys: "I pretty much assume that anyone with more than 10 partners in the past has one of them, so yes."
  • Update from fabulous friend of the blog: From Julie N. of Wine Me, Dine Me, Cincinnati... and an avid twitterati: "1. yes on permanent STDs. I've done it before. You have safe sex." AND "2. No on treatable STDs, because that shows a level of health irresponsibility I can't handle. ta da."
What's my take on the question? I would have to say yes, yes I would.

This is the point where my courage wanes, but I will charge on. See, we spend so much time talking about the empowerment of people with HIV, and we encourage people to "out" their serostatus, and we look down on people who "can't" date HIV+ persons, yet we don't do the same for other incurable STD's.

We don't at all, in fact. They remain somewhat in the closet, and there is some level of acceptance about their stigma.

True conversation: "Well, it was going real well, but then he told me he had herpes, so it was off." Rather than actually say, like I would expect if the word herpes was replaced with "HIV," "you know, it's a completely manageable disease and you can (somewhat) safely have sex with that person," the entire group of people around this commentator just nodded and accepted the fact. You see, though we are breaking down huge barriers for people living with HIV/AIDS (but still face a lot of stigma, don't get me wrong), I think there is some level of acceptance that herpes and HPV/warts are lines that are unforgivable.

Is it because they are not gay specific, or because we know so little about them, or because they are "tricky?" That is, they don't feel as easy to protect against as the "no body fluids" HIV prevention method.

You're right, figuring out the best way to protect against a skin-to-skin transmission is very difficult. But managable.

And here's where I shut down pretty much all future dating and fucking potential for anyone reading my blog. See, I have HPV... of the anal variety. Whoo-freakin-hoo. It's something that happened to me, and it's something I deal with and manage. My doctors are aware and, though there was a spell in my life where I didn't disclose this to people (but there were other contributing factors, as well, clearly), I have started telling people about the situation. Mainly because I think a lot of gay men deal with these two "other" STDs and don't talk about it.

In short, I'm talking about it so other people will, too. (It feeds so nicely into my martyrdom syndrome.)

I'm trying to start dating again, rather than just fucking. I'm trying to get out there, and this question was partially out of academic curiosity and partially out of self interest. Is there a dating pool out there? What are the perceptions of other people when it came to these diseases? And, generally, it doesn't seem good. HA. It's still quite taboo, and I'm sure I'll get a "TMI" comment or two.

Especially since most people gave me answers that assumed some sort of sexual experience within the context of love and relationship. . . which I also thought was interesting.

Would I date someone with HIV? Of course. And have.

Would I date someone with herpes (HSV)? Of course, and probably have (estimates, again, are somewhere between 10-25% of the sexually active population has it.)

Would I date someone with warts (HPV)? Of course, and I would hope the same of the other side. And, clearly, have, though I didn't have a choice in the matter.

Would I date someone with a curable STD -- gonorrhea, chlamydia, trich, syphilis, etc.? Absolutely not. Because you can go to the clinic and get that dealt with. And you should. Soon. But we can wait to fuck around until you get that shit taken care of it. And, don't worry, I've had one of the above before and I'll laugh about it with you later.

Point: it's nice to wax poetic on the sexual health of gay men, and the diseases we get and are at risk for, but the rhetoric always seems to be about HIV.

It's nice to get it off my chest, I supose. It would be nice to get it off my ass when it flares, though. HA!


Maureen said...

aww! thank you for the kind words in the post! definitely thought provoking. looking forward to future questions!....

your honesty is both courageous and empowering. i appreciate it.

god bless.

Jeffery said...

I didn't get the chance to participate in your Friday Question, but look forward to reading and possibly answering future questions. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

I'll be back next week, sorry I missed out.

Just to clarify: having sex with a Republican is 'at-risk behavior', right?


Unknown said...

As a recently HSV+ man I have asked myself the inverse question... would I date a healthy man for LTR? I tend to think no. But it's early days for me, and as my dear friend reminded me 'you still have a lot of growin ta do!' LOL.

I didn't know I was courageous or anything, but I told most of my friends when I found out my status a few weeks ago. We've all learned a lot about herpes (together) because of it. So I'm glad I shared my news!