‘Is sex worth the risk?’ Monkeypox just the latest virus to threaten gay intimacy

Decades after the Aids pandemic began, game-changing drugs restored some peace of mind. Now monkeypox puts that progress at risk

Last week, I went to my doctor’s office for a long-scheduled sexually transmitted infection checkup, and started to cry a few minutes into my appointment.

Like many gay men, I am on a daily drug called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which prevents me from becoming infected by HIV, even if I were to have sex without a condom or use injection drugs. At 44 years old, I am of the generation who knew about Aids before we even knew about sex; from childhood, I conflated sexuality and fear. PrEP was a gamechanger in taking that fear away.

But last week, HIV was not much on my mind, and almost as soon as the physician’s assistant closed the door, I burst into tears.

From childhood, I conflated sexuality and fear

My doctor’s office is staffed almost entirely by gay people seeing gay patients, and the PA, like everyone there, was very kind. I told him that I hadn’t had much sex lately because I was concerned about monkeypox. Even though I had no fever, and even though I often get heat rash in the summer, I was terrified that some skin bumps could be monkeypox.

Because he was so nice, I blabbered on that I would never tell anyone else to feel bad if they contracted any infection. But my book was coming out the following week, and it was about viruses, and what if I had to cancel my launch because I had contracted a virus?

The PA very sweetly talked me through my feelings and told me that while he didn’t think I had monkeypox, we could do a test if I wanted. He also kindly, but very firmly, told me not to feel bad about feeling bad.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments