“As an advocate for HIV awareness, you of all people should not promote PROMISCUITY.”
When I read that comment off someone else’s blog, I wanted to reply right there and then. But then I thought otherwise. The blogger already has anonymous contrarians buzzing about like flies in his comments section, and I didn’t want to add fresh meat to the melee.
It appalls me to think that there are those who think that way. But I suppose one can assume that they lack sufficient information, education, and exposure to the different points of the issue.
HIV prevention is not a question of monogamous versus polyamorous, or faithfulness versus promiscuity. Rather, it is a question of safe versus unsafe sex practices.
Promiscuity does not automatically guarantee the spread of HIV. With promiscuity, the probability that one can get HIV is greater because the more number of sex partners one has, the higher the probability that one or more of those partners has HIV.
Now factor safe sex into the equation, and you alter the probabilities. If one of the partners always practices safe sex, then the probability of getting HIV is greatly diminished; furthermore, if BOTH partners engage in safe sex, then the likelihood of infection (assuming one of them is positive) is next to nil. HIV transmission during safe sex is next to impossible, regardless of whether the sex happens within the context of a monogamous relationship or with a multiple-partner set-up.
Of course the surest way for HIV to not be transmitted through sexual contact is to avoid sex altogether. But it’s like saying: “Riding in cars is dangerous because there’s a risk of getting into an accident; therefore, to make sure I don’t get injured in a vehicular accident, I will stop riding cars.” Life is full of risks. But that shouldn’t stop us from living, because Life is about taking risks. So let it also be with Sex.
Furthermore, here’s one more practical and rational reason why safe sex trumps monogamy in terms of preventing HIV. For monogamy to succeed in preventing the transmission of HIV between two people, both parties need to be fully monogamous. But while you can be in control over your life, you cannot possibly control another person’s actions. So even if you are monogamous, if your partner isn’t then he can infect you. With safe sex, however, the control totally rests on you. Thus, even if your partner is HIV-positive, you can still have sex with him so long as you protect yourself. If he refuses to play safe, then you can always walk away.
Some may consider sex to be a sacred act, reserved only for one person and within the context of marriage and having children. Fine, let them have their procreational sex. Others may have a more hedonistic view of sex, that it’s fun and pleasurable if done between consenting and responsible adults. Let them have their recreational sex. But while we may disagree on our sexual values, we can all agree that safe sex practices, particularly consistent and proper condom use, reduces the chances of passing HIV along.
So advocates need to promote safe sex. Whether they are into monogamy or promiscuity is none of our business.