Gift-giving, otherwise known as the act of intentionally infecting someone with an STD, is, as I’m coming to understand it, a more common thing in the gay community than I could’ve ever imagined, especially when it comes to HIV. Though I’ve tried to decipher the exact reasoning for this sort of “desired” behavior in the past, I’ve never been able to piece something together. However–upon reflection, I realize that I have been given at least three reasons reasons from guys who contact me with the intention of being “Gift-given,” and I thought I’d share them here.
1. They want it “over with.”
Some guys think that HIV is inevitable within the gay community. This is why they wish to simply “get it over with” and contract the virus so they no longer have to worry about becoming infected with it.
2. They think it “makes them closer” to a person.
My most recent encounter with someone who wished to be gift-given by someone detailed the idea that, by being gift-given, it was akin to “having the guy’s baby” (his words, not mine.)
3. They have “access to better health care” and “are healthier.”
We, as HIV-Positive people, may have access to preventative healthcare in many areas, but that isn’t true for all places within the world. People still die from AIDs, even in the United States. Complications are not unheard of.
IN THE END, HIV is a presently-incurable disease that still inflicts side effects such as nerve pain, headaches, fatigue, and chronic pain on people. As someone who suffers from the virus, and has for the past almost five years, I would highly recommend those who are looking to be “gift given” reconsider their behavior. While I can’t force people to abstain from certain behaviors, I would hope that previous posts from me would help people reconsider their choices.
I went in to my HIV doctor for a checkup / routine visit on my bloodwork, and was told that my immune system count was not only “exceptional” (and that it was higher than most people’s,) but that the numbers had jumped substantially, and that my viral load went down even further into the undetectable range.
So, pretty thrilled right now. :)
I should note that the new science (not ‘old’ science from a few years back) says that undetectable = untransmittable, so knowing that I’ve continued to remain at this level is always a nice thing to hear.
While this occurred in India, and the teenager died as a result of complications from ingesting rat poisoning, this is something I think should be said:
If you are sexually active, you should be getting tested regularly. This is because HIV takes TIME to build up in your system. You literally sometimes DO NOT KNOW you have the virus unless you are tested, because HIV is a sneaky little bastard that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I found out I was positive (+) because I went in for a regular fingerprick test at a gay youth clinic.
Thankfully, all the people I exposed came back negative, but unfortunately in this young man’s case, he infected someone.
I just want everyone to know that, if you are doing your due diligence, and the forces that be (for whatever reason) are preventing you from obtaining a confirmed positive status, you SHOULD NOT feel guilt for exposing or even infecting someone.
It hurts to put someone in such life-changing circumstances (even if they’re just potential.) I’ve gone through it on two separate occasions with both my HIV and HSV diagnoses. But fact of the matter is: if you are being as careful as possible, and something does manage to happen, don’t be afraid to seek counseling from an infectious disease clinic. Your life IS worth it, even if your brain is telling you otherwise.
This article was formerly posted on my writing blog on April 26th, 2018. However, given its nature, I have decided to remove it from there and repost it here, as this is a more ‘private’ journal that does not explicitly have my name attached to it.
Please note that this blog precedes my post “It’s Time To Admit I was Sexually Assaulted,” which can be found by clicking or tapping here.
As many of you have probably have, I grew up watching reruns of The Cosby Show. Cliff Huxtable, played by Bill Cosby, was a father most anyone could love. He was kind, considerate, loving to his wife, a good father to his children. He was also, in a way, a perfect representation of what fatherhood should be: a process in which young people, shielded and protected by their parents, are allowed to grow without fear of rejection from within the home.
Unfortunately, some empires tend to fall.
When I heard about the accusations against Cosby, I thought, Surely it can’t be this Bill Cosby. It had to be someone else? Right? How could Bill Cosby, the man who played Cliff Huxtable, be accused of such crimes?
Thing was: the accusations were against the beloved Bill (Cliff Huxtable) Cosby, and as they continued to come in, the horror of the situation became very, very clear. A divide was forged, sides taken. Some favored the victims while others defended the predator. There was no way to tell who thought what of whom, and as a result of that, talking about sexual assault became very hard, especially for people like me.
Not many people may be aware of this, but I also fell prey to a predator like this once.
My story is simple:
While living in Austin, Texas some three years ago, I went out with someone I considered a friend—believing, at the start of this outing, that we were simply going out to chat and eat pizza at a local restaurant. This man—whose name I can’t even recall anymore mostly because of PTSD—picked me up in his car, drove me to the restaurant, then ordered pizza and drinks for the both of us. We talked. We laughed. We had a good time. Then he pulled his phone out and showed me a video of what he claimed was an underage child, and triggered me so badly that I entered a fight or flight state.
I won’t go into details about the events that occurred thereafter. I will say that, after this moment, this individual did the best he could to isolate me from other people. We left in his car, went to a secluded place on the highway, he performed sex-acts on me that I could not willingly consent to due to my state of mind, and then took me to a pornography store that featured private rooms and did the same thing again. There was no way I could leave—at least, at the time. I was trapped by my emotions, and rather than risk being stranded in the middle of nowhere without transportation, my mentally-ill brain thought it would be best to remain with said individual. I thought, I’m overreacting. This can’t be what’s really happening.
Thing is: it was happening, and I was a victim in the center stage of it all.
While I came out of it mostly unscathed, I am still haunted by these events whenever I think about them. I was not even concerned for myself at this point, but more for the underage person whom was on his phone—and whom he’d claimed to have met with himself.
You might be wondering: why do I mention this? Because in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it became somewhat acceptable to come out and share our stories—the stories of people who fell prey to others. While there were people who decried the movement (and still decry it to this day,) it offered a voice to those of us who felt they couldn’t speak before.
In this regard, I only have one thing to say:
Justice may have been served against Cosby in that he will go to jail for his crimes, but Cosby’s victims—and victims of sexual assault in general—are never free of the acts that have been committed upon them. There is always a great divide within them that questions whether or not they should trust someone, whether they should be alone with them, whether they should be willing to become isolated with them. Experiences like those depicted in the #MeToo movement inflict wounds that, while eventually able to somewhat heal and scar, always remain. And that, unfortunately, is a truth that cannot be erased.
This article was formerly posted on my writing blog. However, given its nature, I have decided to remove it from there and repost it here, as this is a more ‘private’ journal that does not explicitly have my name attached to it.
If I’ve learned anything about the #MeToo movement, and about sexual assault in general, it’s that the first thing we’re conditioned to feel after we’ve been abused is shame. This is because, according to some, there is always ‘something we could have done differently.’
What were you wearing? some might ask.
Why didn’t you say no? another could question.
Why did you let them separate you from your friends? Your family?
Why did you let them take you to a private space?
Why didn’t you say no?
In a world where survivors bear the weight of the world on their shoulders, it is impossible not to feel guilt-ridden over our assaults, especially when we speak out against them and are defiantly questioned about what we did wrong.
Why does it always have to be on us, I wonder? Why can’t it be on them—the people who abused us?
Oftentimes, we judge ourselves because we internalize our guilt, and create a scenario in which our assaults were ‘not as important.’ I’ll be the first to admit I was one of them.
When I posted about my assault on my blog and personal Facebook page, my best friend was the first to call me out on this problematic behavior.
Why are you saying you weren’t assaulted? she asked. What you described is sexual assault.
I didn’t want to make anyone feel like I was downplaying their own assaults, I replied.
But you are by saying you weren’t assaulted, she said.
If I’m going to be completely honest, I held the belief that I wasn’t sexually assaulted for a long time because I was never actually penetrated by my abuser. While this is a foolish belief (in that it doesn’t require penetration to constitute assault,) part of my refusal to admit that I was abused stems from my background with PTSD.
To give a little backstory:
I met the man who would eventually become my abuser on an online dating website. We met once, engaged in consensual sex, then went our separate ways for years. It was only when, on a summer night shortly after I turned 22, that he invited me out for pizza. I, being the friendly person that I am, agreed to this, and awaited his arrival. After he picked me up, we drove to the restaurant, ordered some of the best pizza I’d ever had in Austin, Texas, then proceeded to make our way into the small courtyard outside to eat.
This was when he pulled out his phone and said, Look at this.
And I did.
And immediately felt uneasy.
Though I will not describe what I saw on the video, it took only two words to send me down the metaphorical rabbit hole that all survivors of traumatic experiences live in fear of.
Those words were: he’s fifteen.
Warning bells immediately went off in my head; and my brain, trained to react well under pressure, caused me to disassociate.
It isn’t hard, in a dissociative state, to proceed into dangerous environments. This is because, after you’ve survived traumatic events, your brain is conditioned to do whatever it takes to keep you safe. This is why I willingly allowed my abuser to lead me into his car and drive me to a secluded adult entertainment store on the side of the highway, then followed him into a private room upstairs.
The events that occurred within still bother me to this day.
As I mentioned before: I was not penetrated by this person. This is why I hadn’t, up until very recently, considered this an act of abuse. However, the pattern of behavior is typical of predators who first seek out, then groom, then work to isolate their victims before assaulting them.
My greatest regret is allowing my past (negative) experiences with law enforcement to dictate my decision to not report what happened.
I write this now, four years after the fact at the age of 26, to finally admit to myself that I was, in fact, sexually assaulted, and to let others know that, if you’ve ever said no—or were never able to say no for whatever reason—that you’ve suffered abuse at the hands of another person.
I’ll likely never get over the feelings associated with the events that occurred on that summer night when I was 22. However—what I can do is speak out, and let others know that coming forward is one of the best things you can do for your healing.
As with all grief, you never truly get over it. It just becomes easier to deal with.
This was formerly posted on my personal/writing blog. However, I am toying with the idea of removing it from there; and since this is a more private blog, I figured I’d preserve it here.
As someone who experiences episodes of Bipolar mania, it isn’t surprising for many to hear that I go through episodes of hypersexuality. Described as an ‘excessive preoccupation with sexual fantasies, urges or behavior’ by the Mayo Clinic, hypersexuality is, in short: a compulsion to have sex, sometimes at the expense of one’s safety, physically or otherwise.
For people in high-risk communities, it can lead to the contraction of STIs, and even worse: STDs. Given that I am a man who has sex with men (or an MSM,) I am in a bracket (or ‘group’) of individuals whose chances of contracting certain STIs or STDs are higher than the general population.
On November 17th, 2014, I was diagnosed with the Human-Immunodeficiency Virus, otherwise known as HIV.
On September 19th, 2018, I was diagnosed with HSV2, otherwise known as Genital Herpes.
To say that I’m angry is an understatement.
You might be wondering: Why are you angry? Shouldn’t you be suffering grief? Or depression?
The answer to that is: yes, and no.
I’ve gone through this process before. Much like the Five Stages of Grief, in which people who’ve experienced loss go first through a stage of denial, then anger, then bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance, I have experienced the anger, the rage, the frustration, the depression. Being diagnosed with HIV almost led me down a suicidal path four years ago. Today, I am at a point where I have reverted to that familiar anger. Unlike previously, however, I am not angry at the stranger who could have potentially given it to me.
I am angry at the field of medicine itself.
There’s a simple answer for that:
STI and STD panels don’t typically test for the Herpes Simplex Virus, 1 or 2.
According to theCenter of Disease Control, this is because (to quote their website) “diagnosing genital herpes in someone without symptoms has not shown any change in their sexual behavior, nor has it stopped the virus from spreading.” They also state that “the risk of shaming and stigmatizing people outweighs the potential benefits” and that “for these reasons, testing everyone for herpes is not recommended at this time.”
It’s frustrating to know that the medical industry appears to be so dismissive about this issue; and while it’s understandable (in the sense that the stigma surrounding the virus would likely create mass hysteria if it was suddenly placed within general screenings,) I can’t help but wonder why, if some are asymptomatic, why doctors bother telling them in the first place, especially if it’s so common in the first place.
This is a point of frustration for me, primarily for a few reasons, mainly being:
That it is likely that I have been carrying this around for years, and never knew it because they don’t commonly test for it
That there is little they can do except put me on antivirals, which I am already on due to my HIV status
That I have suffered the societal stigma based solely on the fact that it’s ‘Herpes.’
That I have been forced, by my goodwill and nature, to alert other partners to this diagnosis, and make them question their own behaviors and possible HSV status as a result of it.
There is so much conflicting information surrounding Herpes, both from medical sources and not. While some medical sources claim that ‘viral shedding’ makes the virus consistently contagious, other individuals whom I have spoken with in support groups (whom have had the virus for years) claim that their partners have never infected or have never been symptomatic, despite the fact that they don’t use protective measures such as condoms and dental dams.
So, with that in mind: why test (and diagnose) in the first place if it isn’t, as the medical industry seems to believe, a ‘big deal?’
In the end, I believe my anger is justified; and while I believe that I am in a position where I can use my voice to influence positive change (be that personal or otherwise,) I don’t understand the quagmire surrounding the disease.
It’s hard to admit that you’ve made a mistake, especially when it comes to your interactions with another person. For me – someone who has suffered and continues to suffer mental illness on a daily basis – it’s sometimes impossible to admit I am wrong.
BUT KODY, you might be thinking, YOU SEEM TO BE THE MOST STRAIGHTFORWARD PERSON EVER.
In some ways, yes. In others, no.
Due to the bullying I experienced throughout my childhood and early to mid teens, I became what many describe as a ‘pleaser’ type personality. The pleaser, as I have learned, is someone who goes out of their way to ensure that others are happy, sometimes at the expense of their own happiness.
Sometimes, pleasers are wonderful people to be around.
For someone like me – who tends to have a nasty streak come out as a result of mental illness – it can be hard.
For two months, I dated a guy who I really liked. Then we had a falling out because I believed that he’d had a problem with my Herpes diagnosis.
Today, I found out that I had assumed EVERYTHING surrounding this scenario – and that the problem with a lack of communication between both parties.
He had his own issues going on at the time. I, because of my mean streak, assumed that his behaviors (ignoring me, talking to me very little, etc.) was because of me. And as such, my mean streak came out in a passive-aggressive manner, which is a personality trait I struggle with.
He asked what I was wrong.
I told him that I felt awkward because of the lack of communication.
And everything came spilling out.
I won’t air his laundry here, but I will say that he’s had A LOT going on in the past month-and-a-half, which contributed to his lack of communication (for which he apologized for) and his sporadicness. He suffers from depression, which I do not fault him for, and tends to withdraw when troubled. I, being a fairly-open book, am always confused by this, but that’s probably because after a lifetime of torment, I just got tired of keeping everything inside and developed a big mouth.
In summation: I fucked up. We made up. Things are well.
I’m going to meet up with him in the next few days as his schedule allows. I still like him (have still liked him even though I was going through anger spells which I now realize are misguided) and I admitted that. So… we’ll just see how things proceed from here.