The Rise of HIV Paranoia Among Gay Guys


We all fear what we don’t know, and many gay guys today don’t know squat about HIV. Since the invention of hookup apps in the last few years, sexually active gay and bisexual men have slowly developed a unique kind of OCD: HIV Paranoia. So much so that it’s taken away all the pleasure in sex.

Because there is a serious lack of knowledge on how HIV is transmitted, we’ve become obsessed over it. The term “safe” has taken on a whole new meaning. Unless we’re wrapped in bubble paper from head to toe, there’s always a risk we’re contracting HIV. After about the fiftieth trip to the STD clinic, we thank our lucky stars that God has given us a 50th chance to get our sh*t together. But as soon as we leave it all goes out the window, until the next “scare” of course.

There’s a double-edged sword to HIV Paranoia. It keeps us on point about our health and forces us to get tested regularly, but it also blossoms into irrational thoughts and assumptions, forcing us to live inside our imaginations.

With 50,000 new HIV infections per year in the U.S it’s easy to jump to conclusions and assume, perhaps, this test is the BIG one. My symptoms aren’t related to a seasonal cold, but in fact a symptom of lost white blood cells. The man I had sex with last week didn’t seem trustworthy, perhaps he was willingly infecting me with HIV. The one night stand I had two weeks ago was kind of a blur – did we have bareback sex? The questions never end and it all stems from a lack of knowledge.

Studies have shown most people on hookup apps often have unprotected sex AND don’t have a clear idea of how HIV is transmitted. Obviously this has the potential to freak guys out, especially when they want to go home with a hottie at the bar, but stop themselves out of fear.

Here’s the thing. Playing safe is a MUST. When you don’t you’re obviously risking a lot of things, but there’s no reason to freak out every time you have sex. I used to be that guy and, trust me, it’s no fun. You can’t live your life in constant fear of getting infected, otherwise you’ll never be able to embrace the gift of sex, even with your boyfriend.

Invest the time in knowing how the body works. Most guys don’t know that swallowing is much more safer than spitting due to the enzymes in our stomach which kill HIV on contact. Most of us fail to understand that HIV only exists in certain fluids, and many of them aren’t what you think. Do they tell you this in health class? No. Unfortunately it’s something many of us are too scared to research. Rid yourself of the confusion and get to know more about transmission:

Another thing that will always put your mind at ease is getting tested, especially with OraQuick: an at-home HIV test you can take whenever you like. We all fear what we don’t know. When we take the time to educate ourselves on facts, instead of assumptions, you’ll be surprised how fast the fear fades away. Start the learning process now – you won’t regret it.

Originally posted at

David Artavia


David is an award-winning journalist and editor at The Advocate, Plus, and Chill magazines. His work also appears at and OutTraveler. He lives in Los Angeles where he lives vicariously through his friends.

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