HIV Now No Big Deal In California
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.
The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.
Insanity. It’s a misdemeanor to knowingly donate poisoned blood to the blood bank?!
UPDATE: I don’t for one second buy the line that HIV transmission is not such a big deal any more because we have the drugs to control it, or that this kind of law makes public health sense. From a recent piece in VICE.com:
Despite the ongoing efforts of HIV education and all the funny, shocking and plainly weird ads on TV and billboards (like the ones drawing parallels between food items and sexual organs) the virus is actually on the rise in Germany.
The numbers of new HIV infections has doubled within the last ten years according to Dr. N. H. Brockmeyer, head of the German STD council. MSM (men who have sex with men) represent the largest group among those newly infected (67 percent) and a study recently conducted by the Robert Koch Institute supports the logical assumption that the highest concentration of MSM, an estimated 80,000, can be found in the capital. Ten to 12 percent of Berlin’s MSM are positive and even though the study didn’t draw this exact conclusion, we have an inkling it might have something to do with Berlin’s thriving bareback scene.
Young gay men flock to the city dubbed “Barelin” from all over the place, looking for anonymous sex and the ultimate liberty to live out any cum-drenched dream that might have seemed impossible back home in their small town.
Before the internet, they’d have thrown themselves into the vibrant scene around Nollendorfplatz or cruised the bars in Motzstrasse and tried their luck in any given backroom. Now, however, popular forums such as Barebackcity and Gayromeo have broken down all barriers of communication and the general “in for a penny, in for a pound” attitude of barebackers has created an ongoing no-rubber trend.
While treatments have improved and HIV is no longer considered a death sentence, there is still considerable risk involved in contracting the virus, yet the barebackers don’t seem too concerned by this. Those already infected risk further complications by contracting a so-called super infection, which basically means contracting more than one strand of the virus, says Dr. Ulrich Marcus of the Robert Koch Institute. The most considerable risk is posed by the numerous other STDs, which not only affect an HIV-positive person more but also serve as a co-factor in raising the level of infectiousness of HIV-positive individuals.
The rate of syphilis infection in Germany has doubled within the last ten years to an estimated 3,500 cases, says Dr. Brockmeyer. Dr. Marcus says that Hepatitis C, which initially wasn’t considered to be an STD in the traditional sense, has “become” an STD within the HIV-positive community, posing a serious risk during fisting and anal sex. But despite the risks and inconvenience, not to mention the cost to the state involved in treating a life-long infection (on average around 3,000 euros a month per infectee), many barebackers consciously contract the disease or see it as simply a matter of time before they will belong to the HIV community and therefore be able to have even wilder unprotected sex with other infected men.
Ever since bugchasing was picked up by the media in 2003, it has been surrounded by myths and dismissed by naysayers who refuse to believe there are actually guys out there serious enough to do it.
“Bugchasing” is the act of seeking out HIV-infected partners so as to become infected yourself. Here are a couple of excerpts from an interview with an older man who is an HIV-positive prostitute in Berlin. Click through to look at the photos of him. He’s Nosferatu:
Is that a common motivation to get infected?
Very often, yes. I see that on these sites a lot. Young, negative guys writing to me, all like “Come on, poz me!” So I usually play a game with them and start talking to them, to find out why they want it and why they think it’s so great or why it turns them on so much. And after a while I let the cat out of the bag.
What do you say to them?
I tell them I have been positive for 12 years now and that it’s not fun going to check-ups all the time, never knowing if you‘ve caught any additional viruses. HIV isn’t like having the flu that’s gone in two weeks. You’ll have the virus for the rest of your life, living in your body. When you look at people who have had it for a while, you can always tell. Then it’s usually on to drugs. Lots of them give themselves up and move from one darkroom to the next. That’s not a normal life anymore. It’s all about vegetating.
What do they say when you ask why they do it?
“I want to be part of it. I want the thrill. I want to have as much [semen] as I can. I don’t like rubbers.” It seems like the AIDS enlightenment missed these people.
How old are these guys?
Some guys are 17 or 18. Sometimes they’re older, like they should really know better.
Coming back to the idea of the virus being a fetish, have you ever come across people who take pride in their infection and their virus load? Who would rather celebrate than medicate it?
Yeah, there’s a lot of profiles like that online, on barebackcity for example. “Virus catapult” or “combat catapult” they call themselves, or “poz-pariah” or stuff like that. People who collect as many bugs as possible.
Have you ever met one of these guys?
I tend to avoid them by all means. I don’t want to have anything to do with people like this. Some of them send me messages and I check out their profiles, but when I see stuff like “viral load >10,000” or even “1,000,000”, I don’t want to have anything to do with them.
Do you think the “seeders” have the same kind of motivation as the bugchasers?
Many of them don’t have any support system anymore. They don’t get along with their families, they’re alone and some don’t have a job anymore, they live off state welfare or something. They’re on the bottom rung. Some of them say, “I’ll just give myself up now. When I’m dead, I’m dead, and if I take someone else with me, so what? I don’t give a f–k. They infected me, so I’ll do the same now.”
Sounds like this classic literary concept of self-destruction. How do they actually make it work?
Well, there’s clubs along the lines of “Poz me up” and poz parties where people meet to exchange all sorts of bugs, like, “Give me gonorrhoea, syphillis, Hepatitis C and whatever else that’s going around. Chlamydia. Let’s swap germs.”
Does that really exist or is it an urban legend?
It really does exist.
Even outside these forums, in real life?
Definitely. The forums just serve as initial points of contact, but people actually do throw parties or rent clubs for that purpose. It’s all out there. There’s nothing perverted that you can imagine that isn’t happening.
It is suicidal.
Read the whole thing. By the way, Nosferatu is supported by the state. He’s on welfare, and says he decided to turn tricks to make extra money.