Thursday, March 13, 2008

Intimate Infections

Three times in my life I've had the delicate task of informing intimates that I had an infection, and they should be tested and treated, if necessary. I played through that drama again this week. As far as infections go, this one is easy to treat. But the whole thing makes me anxious.

Three separate but related issues confront me.

Firstly, I feel guilty. This is not a very specific guilt, just the sense that if I had not had sex with these guys everything would be okay. Mixed in with this feeling is some embarrassment, which is a little weird, because one of these guys may have, in fact, infected me. But in my role of bearer of bad news, I think some guys blame me for all of this, forgetting their own culpability.

Secondly, this is disruptive. It takes about two weeks for my friends to be tested and (if necessary) treated. Schedules have to be rearranged. It's an annoyance. I'll miss the boys and the sex.

Finally, this infection is mysterious. I practice "safer" sex with my partners, but obviously something failed. I have unprotected oral sex, and I'm fairly certain that was my undoing, but I'm not sure. Will I spend the rest of my life sucking a rubber ducky? I shuddered as I wrote that.


Tim said...

What's a mystery to me is how little information seems to be available about routes of transmission. If oral sex is implicated—either way—what does that say about kissing? If you don't want the dick of "death" in your holes, what about in your hand? This published ignorance leads to extremes: abstinence or activity, for geezers and geysers alike. As for me, no way oral sex is ever going to get mediated.

Happy said...

I guess I should clarify what I mean by "Safer Sex."

Firstly, I mean disclosed sexual history. You and your partner disclose to each other relevant information about your sexual health such as HIV status, Hepatitis B status/vaccination, and other health information.

Secondly, you and your partner talk about the sexual behavior you want to engage in: e.g., completely protected sex, protected anal sex, but unprotected oral sex, bareback, rimming or not, deep kissing, etc.

Thirdly, both of you talk about the risks associated with the desired behavior, and decide what behavior mitigation (usually condoms or abstinence) is acceptable to you, considering the risk of a sexually transmitted infection.

This conversation should happen first when you agree to meet, and a second time when you are together and before you've taken off your pants.

Safer sex doesn't mean "Safe Sex." It means having an informed notion about the risks you take when you have sex, and behaving in a way to minimize or mitigate the risks to you and your partner.

I don't believe that I can avoid risk completely in my sexual life, but I do think that I can greatly reduce the chance that I will contract a serious infection while having an enjoyable and fulfilling sexual encounters.