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“And he gave me HIV,” he dropped into the tequila-laced conversation.
The first time I knowingly slept with someone with HIV I was 23.
The boy was 20 and he told me drunk on the night bus home.
He fitted an ignorant man’s HIV stereotype: he was a ketamine-sniffing rentboy, living with a sugar daddy in West Hampstead.
When I asked him how he paid the rent, he snorted and replied: “My ass.” He was also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
I sometimes think about him and hope he’s doing okay.
After he told me his status that night, I said: “Sure, we’ll just use condoms.” The next day I lay curled up on my bed, trying to slow down my thoughts.
I knew something about HIV from the magazines and GMFA flyers, and that if somebody came inside you that was a big risk.But I wasn’t absolutely clear about other methods of transmission.I remember phoning up the NHS Direct helpline, telling them I’d had my tongue up this boy’s ass, and asking whether I needed PEP.A lovely lady at the other end of the phone carefully but clearly explained: “No, babe.” Yet his status was why I didn’t call up the boy again.I could deal with the drugs and the escorting – working on the Soho gay scene I was never very far from either – but the virus was one small step for man, one giant leap for my mind.In the past six years I’ve learnt a lot more about HIV, and dated two positive guys. Cute and I were drunk when he started talking about an abusive ex-relationship.