An article by a man named Robert Brandon Sandor has been making the rounds again lately going under the title “PrEP Failed”, wherein he makes some wildly misguided assertions with questionable (deliberate?) misunderstandings of the facts. Part of me really wants to put on my fisking gloves, but the arguments are so convoluted and nonsensical that they’re difficult to address, and Todd Heywood at HIV Plus Magazine already did all the work anyways, so I’d just be repeating everything he already said.
Instead, I want to address Sandor’s alleged motives: speaking up on behalf of and protecting HIV-negative young men. As one of those HIV-negative young men (32 still counts as youngish, thankyouverymuch), I would like to take this moment to openly address Sandor directly:
Dear Robert Brandon Sandor,
Do kindly shut the fuck up and quit pretending that you have our best interests at heart.
You bemoan how the HIV-negative community has been responsible since the 90s for stopping the spread of HIV but that no HIV agency has thanked these men for what they have done. You’re partially right: HIV-negative men are responsible for slowing the the spread of HIV. The thing is, HIV-positive men are equally responsible.
When the AIDS epidemic hit, the gay community came together to survive. When it was learned that HIV was spread via sex and blood, actions were taken by all to stop the plague. Poz men took meds to reduce their viral load, even the early harsh AZT meds that kept the virus at bay at the cost of their physical appearance, and in some cases paying the price of organ damage. Both poz and neg began using condoms more and more as a part of sex, and educating themselves on how to engage in safer sex. Kinksters found and shared new and interesting ways to scratch that intimate orgasmic itch in ways that eliminated any STD transmission. I personally know a few poz bondage doms who got into the scene because it allowed them to sexually connect with a negative man while keeping him safe from exposure.
Halting the epidemic of HIV was a joint effort between poz and neg, young and old, and even gays and straight allies. No single group deserves exclusive praise, and while I appreciate your approval of my avoidance of sordid hookups in 6th grade I wouldn't dare to presume to expect thanks from anyone for it. This idea that I and men like me are somehow entitled to this unearned adulation disrespects the legions of poz men and women, living and dead, and is so repugnant as to be the brainchild of a full-on sociopath.
Now, you assert that the ONLY message that I and men like me are receiving is to get on PrEP and be happy. That is far from the ONLY message that we are receiving, but I personally don’t see anything wrong with that particular message. Get on PrEP if I’m sexually active so that I don’t have to worry (much) about contracting HIV? Be happy? Sounds like a good message to me.
Additionally, I find it utterly fascinating that you condemn PrEP as a method for remaining HIV-negative, as it's a regimen with between a 92% and 99% efficacy rate when taken as directed (which is a key phrase because even condoms are worthless if used improperly), while in the exact same article talk-up your own serosorting sex parties. Not only does it come across as an utterly shallow effort to promote your own gig, but you are telling me and people like me to avoid a proven preventative measure in favor of an activity that the CDC itself condemns as not only ineffective, but actually increases my risk of becoming infected:
(1)too many MSM who have HIV do not know they are infected because they have not been tested for HIV recently, (2) men’s assumptions about the HIV status of their partners may be wrong, and (3) some HIV-positive men may not tell or may misrepresent their HIV status. All of these factors increase the risk that serosorting could lead to HIV infection.
It’s almost as though you want young men to seroconvert…or at the very least are so desperate to promote your play party that the consequences be damned.
I cannot tell if you are malicious or just stupid that you would try to endanger HIV-negative men in this bizarre crusade you have against PrEP, but it needs to stop.You remind me so very much of the moralists in Russia, in Uganda, in the U.S. who cravenly hide their prejudice under the guise of “protecting the children.”
Scratch that. Given your promotion of serosorting sex parties, you don’t remind me of a religious moralist. You remind me of an action movie or comic book villain, the one who uses the a comrade as a shield while he takes shots at his foes.
Go away, Robert Brandon Sandor. I don’t know what the source of your problem with PrEP is, but you are disingenuously using HIV-negative young men as cover to justify the spread of harmful disinformation. You have nothing to contribute to this conversation and have proven yourself incompetent at discussing the topic of PrEP. I'm just grateful the harm you could do doesn't have the same reach as Michael Weinstein.
I reject your “defense”, and you do not speak for me.
You don’t speak for anyone.