Sleepless Ranting

I am trying to get to sleep, which I’ve been a bit better about recently, but I am kept awake by the ranting going on in my head, so I’ll type it out and hopefully this will allow me some peaceful sleep.

This is, in fact, an addendum to my most recent post, The REAL Rules, in which I discuss some of the more ridiculous things people say in online personals. But this is just seriously incredible; awesomely ridiculous. This guy wrote me a nice little message, saying I’d caught his eye and whatever. So I wrote him back requesting that he write a bit more, as his profile essays are blank (this should have been red flag number 1; ignored). I am trying to give people the benefit of the doubt. Evidently this is a mistake. So this dude writes me back a very nice, extensive message that was pretty interesting, mostly grammatically sound, etc etc. He sounded thoughtful, intelligent, and aside from his being born in a certain country that will not be named from which I have known 3 men, 2 of whom ripped my heart to shreds, there seemed to be no more red flags. Until at the very end of this long and decent message falls this line:

oh and i have to say it makes me a little nervous that you work with HIV patients, does it make me a bad person? i think my preoccupation is reasonable.

BOOM. WHAT. THE. EFF?? There are several things wrong with this. I’m going to go with the simple first–preoccupation: an extreme or excessive concern with something. Really? As in, you are preoccupied by the fact that I work with HIV positive patients, meaning that you are concerned about how this could impact our nonexistent relationship? I suppose it is a valid use of the word, but it seems excessive. Which is why I’m upset about the rest of it. Here are some potential responses:
  • Not sure I would consider entering into a sexual relationship with someone so incredibly uninformed about how STIs are transmitted.
  • Actually, I work with HIV positive patients because I am HIV positive…JK, but that sinking, disgusted feeling you just got? Yeah, that’s why I’d never date you.
  • Um, well considering that I neither share needles nor have unprotected sex with anyone, much less my patients, my risk of contracting HIV is pretty low.
Please feel free to add more.
I am so upset by this, partly on behalf of the really interesting, amazing folks I’ve met who happen to be HIV positive. For one thing, it is not a death sentence. Period. The patients I know who take care of themselves are healthy and many have lived 10, 15 years with the diagnosis. It is a chronic health issue, just as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol are. It just happens to be transmitted, sexually. I’m disgusted (and also a little confused) about why this guy is worried–does he honestly not know how HIV is transmitted? And if he does, does he really think I’m at risk because I’m around people who are HIV positive?! For one thing, HIV is actually a pretty difficult virus to catch, if you’re taking precautions (read: not using IV drugs and using condoms when having sex). The only reason it is still an issue is because people refuse to take condoms seriously and because they have the attitude (and knowledge) of this guy, coupled with the idea that you can tell someone is positive. Which, I can tell you from meetings many dozens of people who are positive, you cannot. They come in all shapes, sizes, socio-economic class, ethnicity. Which is why EVERYONE should protect themselves! It ain’t difficult. Testing + condoms = HIV negative. People are so scared of this virus that they plug their ears when learning about it. But education is key. Like I say, it is not an easy virus to catch. I’d be a lot more worried about Hep B if I hadn’t been vaccinated. Which since this guy grew up in the unnamed country, he may not have been vaccinated against. And likelihood he’s heard of that? Quite low.
I’m totally split in this case between writing a little education STI transmission lesson, bitching him out, or ignoring it (this is like a fuschia flag though, right??). Who am I to judge? Perhaps he has never been interested in STIs and health. Maybe he just doesn’t care. I guess that’s the problem I have–people think they can ignore this stuff, just float through life without their ignorance being a problem. But it is. This is something that affects us all. And in my opinion (because you asked), no one who doesn’t generally understand the basics of STI transmission has any business having sex. Unfortunately that isn’t my call.
Maybe I’m reading this wrong. Maybe he’s worried about me? Like, he thinks it is a stressful environment and it is emotionally draining? He is nervous that in our perhaps relationship he will have to emotionally support me through tough times dealing with difficult patients? But he does say he’s nervous. I’m just still confused about what he is nervous about–that I will have HIV because I’m around people with it? That is just so…ignorant and sad. As I say, on behalf of my patients, I am livid. And he questions whether he is a bad person. To that, I answer, dude–you are not a bad person, you are uninformed. And I would like you to be informed. I would not like you to be my sex partner, due to your uninformedness. kthxbai!