An interview with Michael Weinstein: We can’t let our guard down | Body Positive News

An interview with Michael Weinstein: We can’t let our guard down

Michael Weinstein
Michael Weinstein is the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Whether you are seeing more and more gay bareback porn, reading ads for men looking for condomless hook-ups, or looking at stats from the C.D.C., there is little doubt that unprotected sex among gay men is on the rise. There are too many different explanations to cover them all here. However, what we do know is that this generation didn’t live through the holocaust of the ‘80s and ‘90s. And listening to their elders talk about the “bad old days” resonates about as well as our parents talking about how poor they were during the Great Depression.

We know that young people think they are invincible and that self-esteem plays a huge role in sexual risk-taking. It is not a surprise that gay men, as most men, prefer intercourse without condoms. Knowing what we know, what should we do about it?

There is a line of argument that promoting condom use is a lost cause. According to some, even if we talk ourselves blue in the face, no one is listening. We are supposed to come up with a whole new strategy – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP. It all sounds so sensible. The problem is that it won’t work.

PrEP has failed to protect the majority of men in every clinical trial (study). Relying on negative men to take this medication every day just doesn’t happen most of the time. If you have multiple partners over a long period of time and you are not using condoms, there is a very high likelihood that you will turn H.I.V. positive or contract other S.T.D.’s. Sorry to deliver the bad news.

So, despite the rise in unsafe sex, condom promotion remains the best strategy we have to protect our community. Today, when the fear of H.I.V. has receded because of the improvements in H.I.V. treatment, it is more important than ever to promote safer sex. We won’t reach everyone (although the majority of gay men still do use condoms), but if we let our guard down and give up on safer sex, it is guaranteed that many more men will become infected.

It may not be fashionable to tell gay men that they need to use condoms, but it is the only strategy that has proven effective over the long term.