In the mid 1990s I hosted my first Poz Party'an exclusive opportunity for HIV-positive men to meet, network, socialize, and have sex with other HIV-positive men in a fun, safe, and comfortable environment. The concept proved to be the forebear of today's HIV prevention strategy called serosorting, through which HIV-positive people have sex only with others already infected with the virus.
Charles Darwin wrote, 'It is not the strongest of the species that survives or the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change.' And look at how we have changed! American society as a whole in the 21st century is beginning to accept serosorting as another valid form of HIV prevention, and we'the HIV community'are helping to lead the way in stopping the spread of the virus.
But in a broader sense, serosorting is about much more than just stopping HIV transmissions. Whenever two HIV-positive people'gay or straight, men or women'hook up for sex, it is about respect: respect for one's self-esteem, respect for one's partners, and respect for our society. It also helps HIV-positive people avoid the stigma of our serostatus, to meet friends and partners like ourselves, to gain a sense of belonging, and to remind ourselves of what we are'alive and productive members of our society.
As a rule, since my first party, I have always provided condoms for people who want them, because some HIV-positive people are worried about becoming superinfected or catching a sexually transmitted disease other than HIV. But regardless of whether condoms are used, HIV transmissions to uninfected people do not occur at my parties'or any other time HIV-positive people engage in serosorting. Those who are HIV-negative remain protected against the virus.
And that is a goal we all should work toward.
Sandor is the organizer of Brandon's Poz Parties, gatherings held regularly for HIV-positive men in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Palm Springs, Calif.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.