The Return of Freedom to Love Without Barriers (Part 2—The Beginning of the End of HIV)
Love in the post-condom era.
In my previous article, "The Return of Freedom to Love Without Barriers—Part 1," I told of the beginnings of the Free Love Movement, the contraceptive pill, and the Age of Sexual Enlightenment. We discussed the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic and the beginning of the Condom Era, where we learned that sex can kill you, and the term "safe sex" became a household word.
In this closing article, I’d like to share what I believe to be the Beginning of the End of the HIV Epidemic.
In 2003, the FDA approved a drug called Truvada for combination use in the treatment of HIV infection. This medication has been around now for almost twelve years. We know a lot about its side effects and contraindications, and we also know that the benefits of the drug for most people outweigh its manageable side effects.
In 2012, the FDA approved that same drug, Truvada, for use in a protocol called PrEP, which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. This once-a-day medication has been found through several clinical trials to be near 100% effective in blocking the transmission of HIV to the individual taking the medication as long as the person maintains strong compliance with the protocol.
This is a HUGE discovery. Finally, we have a protocol and medication that protects a person from contracting HIV. The only drawback is convincing healthy HIV-negative people who might be at risk to take the drug in large enough numbers to begin to see a decline in HIV infections. Those of us who have recognized the protection this provides have dubbed ourselves #PrEPWarriors. Others have pushed the lesser moniker of #TruvadaWhore upon us.
Strangely, I’m okay with that. What’s one more derisive epithet when we’re already used to so many? Promiscuous, Slut, Whore, Faggot, Queer, Sodomite, and Abomination among them—at least "Truvada Whore" shows my desire to become a part of the end of the HIV crisis.
A large Facebook Group exists, devoted to providing sex positive, fact-based information about PrEP. This group, founded by Damon L. Jacobs, has been a platform for him and many others to become staunch advocates of spreading the word about this protocol that I believe has the potential to end HIV in my lifetime.
We’re almost back to picking up where we left off during the Sexual Revolution that was put on hold with the advent of HIV. There’s just a few little things muddying the waters that we need to clarify for the naysayers.
CONDOMS ARE STILL REQUIRED TO STOP THE TRANSMISSION OF STI’S
On the surface, this seems like an accurate statement, and I’ve no doubt that consistent condom use would indeed cause a decline in Sexually Transmitted Infections, but just as the “War On Drugs” has failed to curb drug usage, the “Consistent Condom Use” mantra has also failed.
Even with the known threat of HIV, we still see non-barrier sex happening. We still see STI’s in numbers that show two things: Condom use isn’t consistent, and for most STI’s the chance of becoming infected can occur even WITH responsible condom use.
Most STI’s can occur through contact with areas outside of the those protected by barrier condoms, and I know of very few individuals that will consistently use a condom during oral sex. So with that said let’s go over the big ones.
There are two versions of the herpes virus. HSV-1, also known as “cold sores," has an infection rate of around 90 percent of the population, and HSV-2, or “genital herpes” has an infection rate of around 70 percent of the population according to some sources. Neither virus is considered life-threatening, and once discovered and medicated pose more of a stigma than a realistic chance of transmission when treated correctly.
GONORRHEA, SYPHILIS, AND THE OTHERS
While no one wants to contract an STI, none in this group are considered life-threatening when discovered and treated in a timely fashion. The PrEP protocol requires full STI testing every three months to ensure the earliest detection and treatment of infection. So let me dare say these words that I know might be held against me as setting a dangerous precedent. I believe that with the full understanding of the nature of these NON-HIV STI’s, two consenting adults, where at least one is on PrEP, with full disclosure, could reasonably decide to have CONDOM-LESS SEX.
There, I’ve said it. I’ve spoken against that great Taboo that has been drilled into us for over 30 years now. Non-Condom sex while on PrEP is not considered “unprotected” sex. Even the CDC has dropped the use of that term. The use of PrEP is deemed to be “protected” sex at least when it comes to transmission of HIV.
No longer are we required to use serosorting among our sex partners. PrEP Warriors are free to share the act of love and sex regardless of the other persons HIV status.
PrEP has become a necessary part of my partner and my relationship. We choose to become these warriors, so we can enjoy the deep bond of sexual enjoyment with others, with each other, in three-ways or groups, in any combination that we desire. The freedom to love, as long as we harm none, in any way we choose among consenting adults.
Before PrEP, few would chance a sexual act with an HIV-Positive person, and few people with HIV would chance the possible exposure of the virus to an individual they knew was HIV-Negative.
PrEP is the great leveler. We can now return to our universal right to experience sex free from the barriers that were once needed to save our lives from a virus whose hold on us is already set to dwindle as more and more PrEP-Warriors step forward to begin the end of this disease.
I also consider another group, if not heroes, at least, pioneers. Those among us that continue to live with HIV that can now be brought back into the fold, into the loving arms of friends and sexual partners, brought out of the shadows that they have been condemned to for so long. And lastly, I’d like to honor all of those souls we’ve lost to this epidemic. Those who have died, lonely, without the chance to live full lives and feel the nurturing love that is possible today, in no small part due to this medication called Truvada, and the Warriors like me who are fighting to end HIV in our lifetime.
I’m a proud #PrEPWarrior. I’m a proud #TruvadaWhore. I choose to live my life with the freedom to love without barriers. I choose to become a part of the end of HIV. Will you join me?