“I had bareback sex, can I get PEP on the NHS?” That’s the headline of an article on the website thegayuk.com.
A reader writes “Dear TGUK, I recently hooked up with a guy I know to be promiscuous, we got drunk and he ended up f**king me bareback and I had some blood down there the next day. I’m desperate to get PrEP, as even though he says he’s HIV negative, how can I be sure? I don’t normally take risks, but this time I slipped up.”
On the whole, the advice given is sound: in this situation the foolish man needs PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis drugs) not PrEP. They warn about barebacking (as it is high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections) and the great dangers of trusting other gay men too readily. However the word condom isn’t mentioned, just vague advice to “wrap it up” if you don’t trust someone “100%.”
Often the most interesting part is what articles like this don’t mention. Can you spot it in the first sentence of the question?
Yes, really what this man should do is stop having sex while drunk.
Alcohol is implicated in a large percentage of new HIV infections, making sex combined with booze a lethal combination. Many other HIV infections occur within gay relationships due to a partner being unfaithful. So much for trusting someone 100%…
So why isn’t alcohol mentioned in the advice?
Despite all the hype about how far we’ve come in the last 20 years, the gay community hasn’t moved on. Alcohol-related profits are what keep it afloat. There’s very little community apart from bars and clubs these days, probably less than in the 1980s in fact, and the exploitative money grabbing is at a much more ruthless level now.
Many of the openly-gay men who work in the gay media and for the (ill)health organisations will be heavy scene-goers with lots of pals who own gay bars and clubs or who work in them. Gay magazines and websites rely on advertising from gay scene alcohol businesses and boozy corporate “pride” events.
It takes a strong person to speak out if their social life revolves around visiting these bars and clubs. And their job, or those of their friends, depends on money from such businesses. On the small bullying and bitchy gay scene, overnight they could go from being a hero to a zero for saying something unpopular.
Never forget that your health and well-being comes second to money: profits for businesses and funding grabs for gay (ill)health organisations at which jobs may depend on that cash.
In the 1980s it was all about encouraging gay men to feel happy and confident about who they were. Now money tends to come from identifying “problems” and seeking funding to “help” with those. While businesses play on insecurities about bodies, looks and social “status,” ramped up by “what you want when you want it” dating apps.
The more tragedy among gay men and women, the more funding there will be for the (ill)health charities. Dodgy surveys find that we’re mentally troubled with higher than average problems with alcohol which, as we’ve said, is one of the major causes of new HIV infections. But note how the advice always stops short of telling us to say no to gay bars and clubs and booze-fueled gay events.
The other mistake made by this man (if he actually exists and wasn’t merely invented for the article) is in turning to the gay media for help. As the article points out, PEP “is effective at stopping the HIV virus up 72 hours after exposure.”
Do you suppose the website provided a response and he got to a hospital within 72 hours of his drunken bareback sex?
These people aren’t your friends and aren’t there to save you. You MUST take personal responsibility and look after yourself, otherwise you could well end up another victim of the gay scene and really no one will care.
Just one more statistic on a funding application, a new customer to be fobbed off by the superficial staff at your local (ill)health gay charity and hopefully drowning your sorrows – buying more alcohol regularly at your local gay bar as the owner rubs his hands together in glee.
It’s particularly important that this message reaches gay men at the earliest age. Too many end up with health wrecked by the age of 30. Which, by the way, is the age when the gay scene doesn’t want to know you anymore. Yet you still have perhaps 50 years of life ahead of you.
Information is power. Maybe sure you’re fully informed. Read widely. Don’t rely entirely on the gay media, gay (ill)health organisations, moronic tabloid soundbites and half-truths from those who always have one eye on the money.
Arm yourself with knowledge and condoms.