• Russian Roulette

    By Elizabeth Dexter
    Published: October 21, 2001
    I met a Jim at a bar. I had been drinking for quite sometime, but I still thought I had my wits about me. He was cute and funny and I liked him, so when he invited my back to his place, I accepted. Things got hot and heavy quite quickly, and I soon found myself in his bed. We had sex, without the benefit of a condom, and the next morning we had sex again. I gave him my number when I left, fully expecting to never hear from him again.

    I was shocked and amazed when I received a call from Jim two weeks later. “I thought I should tell you… Someone I slept with a few weeks ago just told me that she has Chlamydia. I may have been exposed to it. You might want to get checked out.” The phone almost dropped from my fingers. Somehow I managed to say gracefully “Thank you, I’ll do that.”

    I am not a stupid woman, but I did a very stupid thing that night. I had condoms with me; I always keep a few in my purse just on general principle. To this day I don’t know why I didn’t even ask him to put it on

    A few days after the test results came back clear, I received a devastating piece of news. Raul, a high school friend, had just died of AIDS. I hadn’t been in contact with him since I graduated high school, and had no idea he was even ill until I received an email from a mutual friend.

    Raul said he contracted the virus in the early 1990’s, and that he got it from a tainted infusion. While that is possible, it is more likely that he contracted it through unprotected homosexual sex, unless he received the transfusion in a foreign country where there are little or no screening standards. The combination of the two incidents left I feeling as if I’d dodged a bullet. I did.

    The latest statistics state that the fastest growing HIV population is young women. HIV is also rebounding in the gay community. The main mode of transmission for HIV is unprotected sex. HIV is more potent in semen than it is in vaginal secretions. This is not to mention the myriad of other sexually transmitted diseases there are out there. Many of them, like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea have no symptoms for women, and can have destructive results on our reproductive systems.

    Women have many excuses to not assert ourselves and have our partners use a condom. These range from embarrassment and self-consciousness, to drunken forgetfulness, to a desire to show trust, or even a desire to be liked. Every time we compromise ourselves in that way, we play a dangerous game, and the stakes are our lives.

    Having unprotected sex that is outside of a committed, monogamous relationship is like playing Russian roulette. You are effectively holding a gun to your head. I know that I have pulled that trigger too many times to do it again. Life is too short, and I want to keep living. AIDS is a horrible way to die.

    If you need to use a condom, do it. It is past time for us to have a “Zero Tolerance” policy. I won’t say simply abstain, even though it is the only 100% form of protection. I won’t preach what I won’t practice. I can only put my own guidelines up for consideration: If a man does not want to have sex with you with a condom, then he does not want to have sex with you. If you are too uncomfortable to discuss prophylactic use with your partner, then he is not someone you should be having sex with. If a guy says "You're a bitch" When you bring it up, tell him you'd rather be a live bitch than a dead wimp. Technically, if you are intoxicated, you shouldn’t be going home with guys you just met, but I can’t throw that stone from my glass house.

    As for Jim, I thank him for calling me and telling me he thought he’d been exposed. It’s more than most guys would do in the same situation

    Raul, you may be gone from our lives, but never from our hearts.

    *This is a true article, although the names details have been changed