Killer Gay Sex!
by Tony Valenzuela
The clueless tabloid and public health hysteria over man-on-man sex may be hindering HIV prevention efforts. From an imaginary "super strain" of HIV to the sci-fi MRSA superbug: What is it about Gay sex that makes U.S. health officials want to play Chicken Little with AIDS prevention and public safety?
In February 2005, a New York man with a multidrug-resistant strain of HIV and a crystal meth dependency became the source of the most reported AIDS story of the decade, but he had never, until now, spoken about his trying ordeal. A slew of chilling claims was made about this man – that he carried a new, more virulent strain of HIV dubbed a "supervirus" that progressed from infection to AIDS in as little as two months; that his meth-induced promiscuity would instigate a deadly epidemic potentially undoing a quarter century of progress against HIV; that he signified what many in the Gay community had been dreading would occur, given that Gay men—stubbornly, recklessly—refused to give up their uniquely nefarious brand of promiscuity. It is, then, no less remarkable that these allegations that gripped the world with renewed fears of Gay plague proved comprehensively false, yet the cycle of alarm that equates Gay men with disease—as seen once again this past January in San Francisco with a drug-resistant "Gay staph" scare—continues unabated to this day. By the time the man with the "supervirus" disappeared from the headlines, those still paying attention would learn he did not have a never-before-seen strain of HIV nor did he set off a new epidemic. Instead, he carried a very rare and difficult-to-treat multidrug-resistant virus that is today fully suppressed as he adheres to a complicated regimen of antiviral medications.
In Paris, the same year the "supervirus" story broke, the late Gay-rights pioneer and scholar Eric Rofes declared to an audience of international activists, "The pathologizing of Gay men’s communities and cultures and spaces is the most powerful challenge we face to promoting Gay men’s health." Three years later, this man’s story lays bare how far too many who work and report on Gay health narrowly imagine the sex lives of Gay and bisexual men inside a realm of disease and dysfunction.
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