July 01 2008 12:00 AM ET
No one is to blame. That's what we say. That is the mantra: Each person must take responsibility for his own infection. Stay negative. Protect yourself. Assume everyone is positive, because we bear our own burden and must save ourselves. No one is to blame. That is what they say'that this contagion has no rhyme or reason, and sometimes bad things just happen. I am not my brother's keeper. You are in this alone. If I infect you without intent, then my hands are clean. Your blood is on your hands. So choose your lovers wisely, for it will not be their fault. This is what they say. This is what they tell us. But who the fuck are they?
I was infected at 22, and I think it was his fault. I blame him because he was not 22. He was not blinded by the ego of youth and the inexperience of the naive. He was not burgeoning in his sexuality and limited by the logic of the young. He was not seeking to be accepted or learning of love for the first time. He was not so unaware of who he was that his boundaries were still undefined. He was not a child. He was a grown-ass man infecting a boy half his age; at the very least he was an accomplice to a crime.
Now, I admit I was no victim. I was not tricked or forced, and even at that age I knew what was at risk. But pulling the trigger at point-blank range, even on a person willing to be shot, is still murder in the eyes of the law. This was a murder-suicide, and he was firing the gun.
I call the new generation 'pretty, young infected things,' and I always wonder who made them so. Beautiful, perfect beings who have barely learned the lessons of life, yet so quickly forced to fight the dealings of death. There are thousands of them out there, and their numbers are on the rise. Positive by 25, 21, and even 19, they are the new faces of the disease'our shame and our pride. They did not come from nowhere; someone had to invite them in. A sexually transmitted disease doesn't jump two generations by divine accident. It's time to take responsibility for deaths that we can prevent and take onus for a contaminant that can easily be contained.
If you are having sex without a condom and not disclosing every time, if your fear of rejection leads to self-serving lies, and if you have not yet been tested and keep pretending you don't know, then I blame you for new infections. You are a murderer in my eyes. There is no easy way to say it. No wording to reword. The result is a murder-suicide, and it's we who hold the gun. I've been guilty many times before. The past I cannot change, and I swear I never meant them harm. But there's no pretending we are blameless when we know we could've been the source.
No one is to blame. That is what they say. It's what I've always heard'that unsafe sex is not a crime and that there is no moral code. So perhaps I'm overthinking it. Perhaps I'm taking it too far, casting judgment on the people and not the virus in their blood. Because people don't kill people; guns, disease, and Pop Rocks do.
Saucier is a writer, blogger, and performance artist based in Los Angeles.