Sex Life is an anonymous Zikoko weekly series that explores the pleasures, frustrations and excitement of sex in the lives of Nigerians.
The subject of today’s Sex Life is a 31-year-old queer man living with HIV. He talks about how it affected his relationship and why he now chooses to disclose his status to potential sexual partners.
What was your first sexual experience?
I was in JSS 1 when it first happened. I had just gotten into boarding school and my room captain at the time would insist that I spend the night in his bunk and fondle him. I later learnt that he had been doing it with a bunch of other boys too.
What did you do?
I didn’t like the experience at all, so I changed rooms. The next room I got assigned to, the same thing happened with my new room captain. I changed rooms again, and it was the same thing the third time around.
What the hell?
Yeah, I was a very effeminate child, so that kind of put a target on my back. The funny thing is, while all of this was happening, I wasn’t even aware that I was attracted to guys. It didn’t really click until I dropped out of the hostel after just one term.
How did you realise?
It was a gradual process for me. I started noticing that whenever I watched porn, I was way more focused on the men than the women. Then that attraction and curiosity grew from there.
When did you have sex for the first time?
I was in 100 level. I don’t even remember who it happened with. For me, it was more experimental than anything. I just wanted to get it over with and decide if sleeping with men was something I liked or even wanted to do.
So, did it help you decide?
At the time, it didn’t. However, it made me realise it was something I was capable of doing. It also showed me that I could do it without feeling any kind of shame or guilt. Then I experimented with women too.
Did you enjoy that experience?
No, I didn’t. It was a struggle, but not for the reason you might think. At the time, all the women I was meeting were virgins, and I have a relatively big penis. The pain and discomfort they were clearly feeling completely turned me off.
Did you ever try again?
Yeah. I eventually had a heterosexual experience that was a lot better. For one, it was much less of a struggle. That being said, sleeping with women is just not something I care to do anymore.
Fair. So, what’s your sex life like right now?
Since I tested positive for HIV, the rate of masturbation has really increased for me. Sure, I still have sex occasionally, but it’s just stressful having to always explain the state of things to new people.
When did you learn that you were positive?
I found out in 2014 and I’m still not sure how exactly I got it.
What made you decide to get tested?
I was working for a health-related NGO at the time. They were having a seminar and offering free tests, and someone suggested that I take it. It’s not like I was sick or anything, but I just decided to do it.
How did you react to the result?
When it came back positive, I wasn’t exactly shocked or moved. I wouldn’t say I was in denial, but I figured it was bound to happen someday. So, I just took the test results, folded it into my pocket and went back to work.
Why do you think you weren’t shocked?
There are a million ways you can get the virus, not just through sex. Sure, I didn’t use protection every single time I slept with someone, but I didn’t base my conclusion on that and try to blame anyone.
There are so many ways I could have gotten it, and I thought dwelling on my sexuality alone would have been the lazy option. It’s a virus that is making its way across the world, so I wasn’t surprised that it had found its way to me.
Alright. What happened next?
Well, I was referred to an institution to start treatment, but I didn’t bother going for about a year. By the time I decided to start getting my treatment, I had already started showing signs that I had the virus.
Why did you wait so long?
I wanted to be sure I was ready. It’s a lifetime commitment and I’d read that if you start taking the medication and you’re not consistent, the virus could mutate and become resistant to the drug. So, I was just taking my time to mentally prepare myself.
Did your status immediately affect your sex life at the time?
I was dating someone at the time and it sort of put a strain on our relationship. I made him take the test and it came back negative, so there was that reservation that he could still get it from me.
We began to drift apart slowly. Funny enough, the sexual frequency didn’t reduce, but we were disconnected emotionally. We eventually broke up. After that, I became a lot more careful when meeting people for sex.
Do you always disclose your status to sexual partners?
Yeah, I do now. That wasn’t always the case though, but an experience I had made me start. I initially didn’t want to tell people because of the fear that ignorance about the virus might make them leave
What was the experience?
I had a sexual partner who didn’t know about my status. I really liked him, and I didn’t want to risk him leaving. So, we were having sex one day and the condom broke, but I didn’t stop.
He later found out — he saw my drugs and googled them. He was understandably very angry. So, yeah, I always disclose now. If we are going to be having penetrative sex, I owe it to the person to let them know.
What is that conversation usually like?
I tell them that I’m currently undetectable and very consistent with my medication. If they are fine with that explanation, then great. If they aren’t, I don’t actually hold it against anybody.
How do they typically react?
The reactions vary. Some guys are indifferent, some are inquisitive and some are cautious. As of now, I’ve never actually been turned down because of my status. Well, not to my face anyway.
That’s great. How would you rate your sex life on a scale of 1 to 10?
I’m practically celibate now, so 0.5. I’m mostly busy with work and I rarely have time to interact with people. I’m also not a fan of meeting people online, so, yeah, my sex life is currently non-existent.
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