We have sex. Sometimes we use condoms and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we have sex in monogamous relationships, and other times, we are complexly more open to having sex without commitment and with multiple different people.
From having sex so good that we find ourselves sleeping in a tent outside of our partner’s home like we are a guard dog, to having sex so boring that we don’t even add it to our body count — many of us are exploring sex uninhibitedly right now. Whether it be sex with self, oral only sex, sex using only hands, with or without performance enhancers and so on, sex is the topic on our brains, and we aren’t talking about it.
We aren’t talking about sex because we desire discretion or don’t have the words to describe our feelings about sex. It’s not that all. We aren’t talking about sex, how we like to have sex or the type of people we are sleeping with because we are ashamed.
We are ashamed of the fact that sex isn’t as scary or as dangerous as we were told it would be growing up. That we enjoy it despite all the fear tactics used to steer us away from sex. And because we are ashamed even to admit that we have sex, we can’t even begin to exist outside the shame that is attached to contracting HIV and other STIs.
It is my opinion that we won’t ever normalize HIV if we don’t first start normalizing sex. I’m tired of people putting so much weight on disclosure and offering judgment and stigma to those living with HIV when the only thing that separates many of us is our status. A lot of us are all doing the same thing. Having sex. All kinds of it.
So here is what I suggest:
Educate yourself on viral load suppression and what it means for a person living with HIV to be undetectable. This is so that we may gain a better understanding of how the virus is approached now due to modern medicine and also expound upon the importance of treatment adherence. Look into PrEP, a pill-a-day option for those who identify as HIV-negative to help prevent them from contracting the virus. Safe sex is knowledgeable sex. Period.
And to be knowledgeable about sex means being honest about the kind of sex you have, who you have it with–be it condomless or not–and expressing these things openly with those you have sex with. Knowing how to navigate your sexual lives in a free and safe manner is the sexiest thing to me. And it’s also a starting point to erasing stigma.
Also published on Medium.