Upwards of 80% newly-diagnosed PLHIVs (People Living With HIV) are males who have sex with males (MSMs). People Like Us. Simply, us. Why?
Is it because we are having too much sex? Because we are going against nature, and nature’s way of telling us to back off is to terminate our kind by spraying us off with HIV?
Some give more rational reasons, the most plausible I’ve heard of is about stigma. But is this it, really? I have a different view.
I think many of us, because we were born this way, as were gradually gaining consciousness through our formative years, build on a sense of innate brokenness — we grow up and as we look within our families, we see we are different. We are not like ate, kuya, we are not like mom, much less like dad. We grow up alone, detached, and yet we learned how to adjust somehow, to normalize things externally. We do good in school, and many of us even finish with flying, scintillating colors. We do many, many good, if not great, things, and we are accepted, we get to belong, somehow.
But deep inside, we have left that innate brokenness unaddressed — hidden behind the shadows of bright accomplishments (or in some cases, the exact opposite). This innate brokenness eventually expresses itself in our carelessness with ourselves, our thirst for things despite the high risks involved. The gym became the sanctuary of many to achieve bodily perfection, something that somehow–but not quite–replaces the innate brokenness. Every trick, every “take-home” is a trophy to be offered to that internal god that constantly demands for external approval. “I had sex with that good looking guy, therefore I am desirable and attractive, right?” Splurging on high-ticket expenses– that red sports car, that penthouse loft, that Php13M piece of furniture–all to appease that sneaky feeling that one is not enough, so such expense, or the status symbol it actually buys, would compensate.
The reason for the concentrated HIV epidemic among MSMs is not too much sex — it is in the why of that sex. It is in the reasons why it seems okay not to take care of one’s self.
We will not solve HIV with just condoms, lubes, and testing till kingdom come. We need to start digging into ourselves, and ask difficult questions. Those that would cause us to reexamine how we really look at ourselves, how really have we embraced and accepted who we are as a human being with no innate crack or brokenness, just because we’re different. Dig deeper and you will meet a child–perhaps your 5-year-old self–and when you finally do, ask him what would make things better today. This is the HIV silver bullet.