Up until the age of 40 (2002) I was a responsible gay man. I ensured that I used protection every time I had a casual sexual encounter. I was not in a committed relationship at that stage, so it was not even an option for me to bareback with someone. I found that exceptionally scary at the time, as I was aware of how easy it was to contract STDs, especially HIV.
However in 2003 I was diagnosed with HIV. So what changed? How did I end up becoming infected with the virus after being so paranoid about not contracting it? Recreational drugs, that's what changed. As a result of me not dealing with the 6 years of sexual abuse I was subjected to as a child by an older sibling, my 'Emotional Tank', which I explain in a lot more depth in my auto-biography, 'Secrets Make You Sick', was overflowing and at the late age of 40 with numerous other life pressures weighing on me, my 'Emotional Tank' erupted and I started using recreational drugs as a form of escape from the real world.
Up until the age of 40 I hardly drank any alcohol and was totally against any form of recreational drugs. I was an Executive at a large logistics company in South Africa, and was unaware that as a result of me not dealing with my childhood sexual abuse I had put myself at huge risk, both personally and professionally - at risk of an emotional meltdown. When you are in this state of mind you become exceptionally vulnerable to anything that could take your pain away. Having ended a tumultuous 9-year relationship just one year before, I found myself at an all time low emotionally. One night, while out on the town, someone offered me an ecstasy pill. All of a sudden all of my worries disappeared and I was able to forget about the 'real world', along with all of my worries went my inhibitions.
Along with recreational drugs comes a form of recklessness and a feeling of being invincible whilst high. You test boundaries that you would never test when sober. One of those boundaries that I never even gave a 2nd thought to was being safe when I was high and horny. Unprotected sex and recreational drugs go hand in hand. It's all about passion and that moment, never giving one thought to the possible consequences of your actions at the time.
So you become entwined in the majestic, fairytale world of drugs, the happiest place to be when you are there, and that's what you become addicted to and continually search for when sober. Each time you visit your 'happy place' you are reckless and careless sexually, you act unsafe with your casual sex partner and, as I did, believe that you are HIV negative, regardless of how promiscuously you act. And if you're not HIV positive, the person you're with can't be either, right? Wrong.
Eventually, it gets to a point where you have been reckless for so long that you do not care any longer and you automatically just assume that you could possibly be infected with the HIV virus because you have been acting unsafe for such a long time. You fall into this false pretense where you assume that because the person you are with is prepared to be unsafe, they are probably also infected, and it becomes this unspoken sexual language, recreational drug users infecting each other as they go along.
There is never any intention of misleading anyone in the process, it is an unspoken language. To be honest the subject of safe sex is totally avoided as it is deemed a bit of a 'downer', so you rather just keep quiet.
So yes, condoms are there and have their place when you are of sober mind, but they do not even exist when you are using recreational drugs. So what is the alternative? The alternative is to start looking at yourself and why you started using recreational drugs in the first place. There is a reason that you decided to escape the real world. Some issue that you are running away from in life. You need to seek help to find out what that issue is that is causing you to escape to another world, and work on resolving this issue, as it is in this world of happy-places and reckless love that you become extremely susceptible to contracting HIV.
Condoms don't exist in a drug-filled world. Now that's a scary thought.