Ignorance is (not) Bliss
OP/ED By Lylah Clare ( new writer to LIB)
I didn’t want to take the HIV test because I didn’t want to know the answer. So when I came to that question on the form at Planned Parenthood in the Bronx, “Would you like to be tested for HIV today?” I checked the box marked “No.” It was forcing me to remember all the stupid moments in my life (and there were a lot of them) when I hadn’t made my sex partner wear a condom. In fact, until I was about 25 and had been having sex for about 10 years, I’d never even used them. My only concern in life was getting pregnant and since I was on the pill, I was going to be fine!
And then reality came and punched me in the face. Through some sneaky detective work I discovered my boyfriend had been having sex with prostitutes. He swore up and down that he’d worn a condom, even for oral, but of course, he hadn’t exactly been honest with me in the past. So I went to Planned Parenthood prepared for taking every other test for every other STD, but HIV was too serious. But the gyno had other ideas. She held up the form and pointed to the HIV question and said “You gotta be fucking kidding me?” I was not going to argue with this woman, so I crossed out my answer and checked the “Yes” box. The test was literally painless. They didn’t even have to draw blood; just a swab of my cheek and that was it. And I was lucky. The results were negative. The gyno sent me home with a bag of condoms.
I wasn’t avoiding condom use because I didn’t see condoms in porn. There was just something un-sexy about the whole process of carefully unwrapping one and trying to get the damn thing on. Now I find them kind of liberating. I don’t have to worry about who my partner had sex with before me and we can do all sorts of fun and kinky things together with no stress!
The first time I saw a condom in a porno (and I don’t even remember which one it was because it was so long ago and only happened once) I was a little taken aback. But I sure as hell didn’t put down my vibrator! I thought it was quite progressive actually. Anyone who watches gay porn is used to seeing them, they’re very common. I don’t think this latest HIV+ porn star is because of a gay to straight cross over. I think we should all know a little better by now that HIV is not just a gay thing.
I do think that as long as condom use is not mandatory, this type of situation is inevitable. But the word “mandatory” is scary to me because I don’t like the idea of anyone’s sex life being regulated by Big Brother. That’s where this issue gets complicated and where I realize I don’t know what the solution to the problem is. These are people who make their living by having sex with other people on film, and as Nina Hartley pointed out in Jezebel (http://jezebel.com/5586957/legendary-porn-star-defends-bareback-sex-and-shaved-vulvas) having sex all day with a guy wearing a condom would be pretty damn painful for performers. But contracting HIV is no day at the beach either. I could go back and forth like this all day.
What I do know is that everyone, porn stars and average Joes/Janes alike, deserve to know who they’re having sex with. The secrecy around this particular “outbreak” is very troubling to me. Normally, a person’s health is nobody’s business but their own, but this affects so many other people that we just can’t use the same standards. Let’s just get this all out in the open and get everyone back to work! When they banned smoking in bars I never met a single person who quit smoking. So condom on or off, I’m still watching!