By G.MG (via email) 


I have been on PEP twice. The first time was after having unprotected sex with a partner who was diagnosed the day after a 24-hour bareback chem session during which I bled and he came inside me. The PEP medication was horrible – my body did not react well to the drugs, nor do I think I was in a strong enough mental state to handle the PEP or my partner’s recent diagnosis. I completed my course of PEP – not as diligently as I should have. I missed my tablets on occasions because I felt too low and numb to care about myself enough to take them – even though they were potentially offering me a ‘get out of jail free’ card. 

At some points I didn’t want to make the effort to keep my negative status because the person I loved had just been diagnosed as positive and as much of me and my heart wanted to become positive as wanted to stay negative, because he was in a place where I couldn’t reach him or understand him or be as close to him as we’d been for seven years. In my head I thought that if our statuses were the same and we were both positive then I could stand with him in the same place and continue to love him and help him from a position where I fully understood what he was going through. This played on my mind so often throughout each day. 

I drank a lot, sometimes a bottle of vodka or two a day just to escape. I also went way overboard on benzos, particularly zopiclone – primarily to help me sleep at night, although I would wake up some mornings knowing I wouldn’t be able to sleep again but just did not want to be awake and aware of the hell I/we were in. I’d pop another zopiclone just to make my waking hours foggy and somehow more bearable. 

After my PEP and tests I remained negative and that was the beginning of the end of our relationship. Not by my doing or choice but his. The moment he told me he had got the results and they were positive I saw in his eyes that a door had slammed shut. I will never forget that look in his eyes and the immediate snap reaction it provoked in me, had I not have promised myself that I needed not to cry and not be weak or broken for his sake. The very fact was I saw our relationship end in his eyes. I was inconsolable. 

Our relationship finally ended three months later but those facts aren’t important for this article. What is important is that his diagnosis completely tore my life apart. I lost the love of my life, fiancé and my best friend – he just shut down. I lost my home, I lost my cat, I lost being part of his family who I was very close to. I lost my dream, I lost the future I had worked so hard to build, I lost my hope, I lost my fun, I lost light, I lost my joy and still being HIV-negative didn’t matter to me. I lost myself. 

Now, having been through that you would think that I of all people would be sensible in my drug taking, always have safer sex and never do anything to put myself at risk. Wrong. I cared so little for myself and had no fear any more because I wasn’t living the life I knew before, my life which I wanted so much. I felt that the life I had now been flung into was an empty one I didn’t care for and so it began.

At first I was super diligent with the ONLY SAFE SEX thing. But I threw myself into a relentless series of sex parties, three to four days long sometimes, on Tina, meph, G and Viagra. Then that wasn’t good enough so I started slamming meph and Tina, separately or together. I was so bad I slammed crushed up and diluted zopiclone – I didn’t care. And we all know this story and you know what’s coming.

The first party I was at where I slammed, the guys were running low on needles so someone suggested that we keep hold of our own used pins and reuse them. I don’t need to tell you how wrong this is on numerous counts. I have the facts. However the more trashed I got the less attention I paid to watching my clean new pin being unwrapped from its medically sterile package and prepared. I was just letting strangers I didn’t know prepare my dose, I didn’t check the needle and the dose, but I just allowed him to stick it in a vein and push. A few hours after the party I realised how stupid I had been. Particularly as I knew that three of the other guys slamming were positive. 

So with the nastiest comedown, bruised arms and lumpy veins, off I went to Dean Street for my second round of PEP in four months. Disgusted with myself is an understatement, and guilty for using up resources at the clinic – this time for my own recklessness – it was heavy. 

But yet again, I wasn’t finished with the self-destruction from the burnout of my relationship. I was back on the sex party binges, still slamming but ‘sensibly’ (I mean sensibly as in measuring my own dose and unwrapping my own pin). But that all seems a bit well, ‘sensible’, so I had to turn it up a notch and start barebacking. Yet again I thought I was doing this ‘sensibly’ – never in the group, I’d take a guy off and bareback with him privately in the toilet and I’d only do it with guys I thought were undetectable or definitely negative. 

I never ask a guy his status at a sex party. My sexual health is my own business and mine to take care of or neglect as I see fit. Therefore if I’m about to have bareback sex with a guy I always presume he is positive and I can’t know if he is undetectable or not as we’re not discussing it. If he asks me that is fine, I’m happy to discuss and similarly if he volunteers his status. But none of that really matters. Similarly when a guy tells me he is negative but is about to have bareback sex with me, I always think an HIV-negative guy who has just picked up the virus has an extremely high viral load and is therefore more likely to pass it on than a postive guy on meds. Of course all this is when you are fucking strangers. My ex and I only ever had bareback sex, but unfortunately he was also having bareback sex with other guys behind my back. And yes – I knew he cheated often, I’d hoped he had more respect for me and my health than to cheat and bareback while doing it. But then I am, I guess, naive. And being in love makes you do stupid things.

My last HIV test was at Easter 2014 and was negative. I have not had a test since. Therefore I am currently labelled HIV-negative. But am I? After barebacking with at least six guys since then? And when I get tested next week and IF it comes back HIV-positive... will I be a different person then than I am now? Personally I don’t think so.

I am happy to say I am now in a better place and place more value on myself again. I might still make reckless decisions but I am aware of myself now. I hope others can be brave and share their stories too. 


Have you got a true life story that you would like to share with FS readers? Email fsmag@gmfa.org.uk.


Support

For details about PEP or where to get it, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/pep.

For details about counselling services that may be available and suitable for your needs, call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.

Newly positive? GMFA has a whole section of its website dedicated for gay men living with HIV. For more information visit, www.gmfa.org.uk/living-with-HIV.

Into chemsex? Visit GMFA’s ‘Safer Chems’ website. Sex advice, dosing advice and help and emergancy advice. Visit www.gmfa.org.uk/saferchems


This article was taken from FS #147: CHEMSEX EXPOSED


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