Kristian + Life @guy_interruptd

Undetectable: the new negative?

Well, the preliminary results from the PARTNER study are in and it’s encouraging news: no HIV transmission has occurred when one partner is HIV-negative and the other positive, but undetectable.

Cue a swathe of gay men chucking out their condoms and fucking the night away bareback in celebration. I mean, the definitive findings of the study itself won’t be published in full until 2017, three years from now, but hey, let’s face it, nobody gives a fuck about that. No transmissions! In two years! That’s pretty much a written invitation to ditch the rubbers and get out there, right?

Lads, lads, lads. Let’s just rein in our penises and hold fire on the condom-burning for a cotton-picking second. No transmissions doesn’t mean there’s a zero risk of transmitting HIV, it just means there were no transmissions. Granted, it’s encouraging, but only as encouraging as playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun and getting away with your head intact after multiple tries. There’s still a bullet in the gun, my friends. 

I get it. I really do. I hate condoms. They’re rubbery, tight, squeaky and they need a shit load of lubricant. For the bottom, it’s like being fucked by a bratwurst in a bin bag, and for the top, it’s like taking a shower in a rain mac. There isn’t a marketer alive who could successfully spin condom use to be sexy. They’re not meant to be there during sex. A dick needs a hole, and that hole needs to be warm and wet. That’s what sex is all about. Trust me, I’ve done it. Bareback feels good and there’s no amount of health promotion that’s going to convince penis-owners of anything else. 

I’m not going to lie; the temptation to wave the new report in front of my fella’s face while simultaneously pointing at my crotch and winking theatrically was huge, but the reality of it is, condoms are still going to be part of the weekly shop in our house for the foreseeable future. Maybe I’m being over-cautious, but for me, it’s not worth the risk. As someone who’s had a med failure in the last four years, with my viral load shooting up to over 2,000 in the space of a couple of weeks without me noticing, I couldn’t start dumping loads in him with a clear conscience. There’s still a risk, however small, and it’s not worth pushing the limits for the sake of getting my end away without a rubber on. There have been discussions over whether we’ll dump the rubbers when he’s driving, and yes, his little face lit up like a kid at Christmas, but we haven’t come to any concrete decisions.

And single boys – let me break it down for you: That PARTNER study? The one that showed no transmissions between serodiscordant couples? Some of those people did become positive. And it was from others outside their relationship. There are people out there who don’t know they’re positive, or who aren’t on a decent drug regime, and that spells big time risk for you if you’re a condom-dodger. And guys, let’s not forget that HIV are only three of the letters you can get in the alphabet soup of STIs – and it’s certainly one of the less gunky out there. Gonorrhoea, anyone? No? Perhaps a nice case of anal warts, then.

Yes, I sound like I’m preaching. In fact, congratulations on sticking with this rant as far as you have, but the simple fact of the matter is this: we are gay men, and we think about sex. A lot. We’re also lucky that the people we have sex with also think about sex rather a lot. But just because a few couples managed not to infect each other with HIV because their viral loads were undetectable, doesn’t mean we should all start treating the condom drawer like it’s an ex you finally deleted from Facebook. All for the sake of having a wet dick during sex, or an arsehole full of cum. 

It’s a horny idea, I know. I for one would love to bust my nuts inside my other half on a frequent basis, and I know for a fact he would too, but until we have a cure for HIV, or at the very least, a vaccine, there is no ‘new negative’. Like it or not, my positive brothers, we still have HIV, and that means we can still pass it on. So in this household at least, we won’t be chucking out the condoms just yet."

Kristian Johns is an author and former editor. When he’s not raising awareness of HIV issues, his sole mission in life is to convince his boyfriend to let him have a dog.

Are you newly diagnosed as HIV-positive?  GMFA has a whole section of its website with information, factsheets and links to support services. Visit


This article was taken from FS issue 141. 

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