Dear Neighbors to the North, When this column goes to the printer, I will be at the European fetish event of the year, Folsom in Berlin. It is the joyful reunion with friends from home and abroad I do not bump into every day.
We can catch up with a cold beer or a gin-tonic. It is of course also the opportunity to go to the various clubs and immerse into a fetish.
For some years now, Folsom Berlin is also the event at which barebacking is celebrated as if it were the Holy Virgin Mary. I have a lot of HIV positive friends, but am negative myself. In the gay community, this last group of HIV-negatives, certainly at Folsom Berlin, are seen as pariahs. Parties one can only attend through a bareback site are increasingly prevalent. At many bars and parties condoms are hard to get by, paid or not.
In the span of a few hours, I met a handful of friends on the day before Folsom who were not happy that nearly all their dates only wanted to have sex without a condom. Berlin is one of the European cities in which the majority of gay men is HIV positive, but those who are HIV positive - medically speaking - would be wise to have safe sex with a condom.
This worrying trend also coincides with the disinformation some HIV-positives are spreading all too loudly. “I am HIV positive but my viral load is under control. Therefore I can have safe sex without a condom,” is a popular statement with which to convince a partner “to do it without a condom.” A “bromide” for a statement. Nothing could be further from the truth, if only because the condom also protects against many other STDs, which the antiretroviral medication does not prevent.
When a Belgian physician diagnosis a sexually transmitted disease, he is obliged to report this to the Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV), which keeps track of these statistics. The doctor is only obliged to report the diagnoses, not the name of the patient.
The people at the WIV know perfectly when Folsom Berlin is over. In medical circles, it is well-known that in the period of four to eight weeks after Folsom, the number of diagnoses of HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea spikes. The same phenomenon also occurs after the Easter fetish event in Berlin.
You do not need to be a doctor to realize that this is worrying - when statisticians can guess when gay events have taken place.
Everyone is, of course, free to do what they wants (or not), but it is very sad that a lot of people have no respect for their own bodies. And apparently push their health further down the drain.