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I’m glad you’re on PrEP… but please don’t make me feel awkward if I still want to wear condoms

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CC-BY-SA See Ming-Lee – How do you protect yourself and others?

I’m having sex with a hot guy. A super hot guy. I’m on a trip abroad and we hooked up via an app.

I’m lying back on his bed thinking that he might actually be the most muscle-pumped guy I’ve ever jumped into the sack with. All is going great. And from the way he’s twerking around on top of me, he’s making it clear that he wants to get fucked.

‘Do you want me to put a condom on?’ I ask, expecting him to immediately say ‘yes.’

‘I hate condoms,’ he says firmly. ‘I’m on PrEP.’

There’s a pause. He awaits my response.

‘Oh. Well, I only use condoms,’ I say.

‘Are you negative?’ he asks.

‘Yes. But I still only wear condoms. Sorry.’

He sighs and there’s the very slightest eye roll. Yes, an actual eye roll.

He doesn’t get up to get a condom and doesn’t ask me to get one (I have some in my bag). So, we end up not fucking.

The remainder of the sex is still great and – for me – satisfying, but afterwards, I still can’t get the eye-roll out of my head.

I can’t help feeling like I’ve been made to feel like I’m being… Prissy? Overly cautious? A spoilsport?

As a gay man, I’ve found myself in situations before where condoms haven’t been used. It was nearly always in the heat of the moment and always when large quantities of alcohol had been consumed. It was always, inevitably, followed by feelings of regret and fear.

I haven’t been in that situation since I stopped drinking a few years ago.

But this is different.

I’m a big supporter of PrEP and wish it were available widely in the UK. Our health service currently does not fund it.

In the US, Canada and other countries, it’s now common for gay men to be taking the medication, which – should you not be aware – vastly reduces your chances of becoming infected with HIV.

Sexual health advocates advise PrEP to be used in conjunction with other forms of infection prevention.

Because I live in the UK, I’ve not actually had sex with many guys on PrEP. I don’t know if PrEP is commonly used in conjunction with condoms. From this one experience, I’m guessing perhaps not.

I’m glad guys are taking PrEP and are educating themselves and protecting themselves. I respect their decision to take the drugs and to request the sex they want to have. But by the same token, I’d ask for the same respect in return.

Condoms can help reduce the risk other sexually-transmitted infections. Sometimes, and let’s be frank, when sticking your dick into another person’s butt, there are cleanliness issues to consider.

Some of us still carry around the conditioning of years upon years of safer sex messages.

‘I’m undetectable. I can’t infect you’

Another recent scenario: I’m again talking to another guy on an app. We’ve both made it clear that we want to hook up. It’s a Sunday afternoon and he lives fairly local to me in London and I’m happy to go to his place.

His profile says he’s a bottom and he’s HIV+. I was going to take my condoms anyway, and I know that most guys these days are on medication, so this doesn’t bother me.

‘I don’t like condoms,’ he messages me. ‘I’m undetectable. I can’t infect you.’

Again, it’s great he’s on medication and undetectable, and I know the chances of him infecting me are almost non-existent. But I still prefer to wear a condom. And I politely tell him so.

‘Sorry – let’s call the whole thing off then,’ he replies.

Again, we’re not talking about uninformed decision-making here. This guy seemed to be an intelligent and knew exactly what he was talking about.

A recent study of 40,000 condom-less sexual encounters between sero-discordant couples (where one has HIV and the other doesn’t) found not one single incidence of HIV transmission when the positive person had an undetectable viral load.

That still doesn’t mean I want to bareback with a guy I’ve just met on an app who I know to be HIV positive: When was he lasted tested for other STIs? How good is he at religiously taking his medication?

Recent studies have found ignorance continues to persist around HIV transmission – including among gay and bisexual men.

I wish every gay guy I come across was as knowledgeable about HIV infection as these two men. But I also wish their confidence didn’t extend to making those who still want to use condoms feel like party poopers.

Footnote: The hot muscle guy still asked to see me again for a repeat session, and the local guys messaged me again a few weeks later to invite me over – with condoms. I’m glad I stuck to my guns.

 

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