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Seroconversion Parties. What the fuh???


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Guest Zach DC

Speaking with a friend yesterday about many topics, including the rising popularity of bareback sex, he told me of something alarming. Seroconversion parties; ritualistic orgies where HIV negative men willingly submit themselves for infection from HIV positive partners.

 

I'd never heard of these parties. So, today I asked an "online" buddy about them. He says they can be found in sex party listings. (I'm not naive, but I admit I'm not much into the sex party scene. And not one to surf the internet.)

 

Has anyone else heard of these conversion parties? How openly are they advertised on the web? Are they some hip new trend?

 

In this 20 year era of AIDS, there have been many developments. Many HIV positive people live healthy lives. (Entire magazines are devoted to positive living.) POZ is not a dirty word. The message is out--it's OK to be POZ.

 

This latest development; the increase of HIV infection among younger gay men. Are these conversion parties the cause or the effect?

 

An unexpected twist in this era: is POZ being labeled as "cool"?

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> is POZ being labeled as "cool"?

 

Sadly, it is. In conversations with friends in the porn world, they tell me the pressure to seroconvert in the LA area is immense and this kind of party is common. I've heard HIV referred to as "the gift". A pal this week told me the pressure isn't much less elsewhere.

 

I just shake my head and remind everyone that the number of HIV infections cured to date is exactly zero.

 

It is their right to seroconvert if they want, just as it is an escort's right to have unsafe sex with clients. I don't happen to agree with their decision, but it isn't my decision to make.

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I think, and hope, that this thread is total bullshit. There are people who play fast and loose, but I seriously doubt that there are seroconversion parties.

None of my friends in LA have heard about this, and they certainly don't feel pressured to seroconvert.

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Guest bottomboykk

Believe it. I've heard about these parties for a long time, and have seen them advertised often. No joke here. It's not an issue of being "pressured." These are parties for those who choose to be infected. Why, I don't know, but it's a very real phenomenon.

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Just when I think I've heard it all and nothing can surprise me, something like this rears its head. This is total insanity; where are these people coming from? When faced with seroconversion, concerns about normal "safe sex" seem trivial in comparison.

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I've heard of this as well as many other titilating, AIDS related rumors. I hope they aren't true and I suspect that most are urban legends. I'd like to meet and talk to anyone who has actually participated in such a party.

(However, I have met and talked to Richard Geer's gerbil, but he ain't fessing up to nothing.)

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Excerpts from world.com article on STD:

 

 

These guys need help:

 

http://world.std.com/~wij/hiv-neg/Chapter19.html

 

Some HIV-negative partners of HIV-infected men have told me, "I want to experience what my lover is experiencing." Or, if their lover has died, "I want to join my lover. It's lonely here without him. I'm going to get infected." I've heard that. Another thing is being fatalistic about survival: "I'm going to get it anyway. I might as well enjoy sex. I'm going to live my life as if HIV didn't influence me."

Wolf believes that repeated loss has taken its toll on gay men, especially AIDS activists. "People are becoming numb to the losses, to the deaths, to the sickness," he said. "A lot of us are walking zombies, dealing with this for so long, not seeing an end. The hope we had in the late eighties is dashed right now, and we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel." The immensity of these losses leaves some activists unable to grieve, damaging both their activism and their health. "Some people need to be in therapy to deal with underlying grief issues or they can't be effective activists," Wolf said. "Instead, they use activism as a way of not dealing with grief. And if you don't grieve, you don't grow. If you don't grieve, then feelings of fatalism, loss, and depression are going to be with you, putting you at greater risk -- consciously or unconsciously -- for infection."

 

For younger gay men, a different kind of despair may lead to seroconversion, a despair born from growing up in a society that devalues gay youth. "I hear in AIDS prevention circles the term 'passive suicide,'" said Wolf. "It refers to young people growing up in a homophobic, hateful society -- especially young people living at home who have no support in their high schools and colleges -- putting themselves at risk for AIDS as a way to passively kill themselves. They don't want to stick a gun in their mouth and pull the trigger. But because they grew up in a society which taught them to hide and to hate themselves, they are needlessly putting themselves at risk."

 

Another reason gay men may desire to seroconvert is that being HIV-positive appears fundamentally linked to gay identity. "Some people feel they are not 'gay enough' unless they are infected," said Wolf. "They feel that they are not heard or acknowledged if they're HIV-negative, that they are taken more seriously if they are infected -- especially if they are involved in AIDS activism or the AIDS service industry." Wolf wondered whether some seroconversions could be the result of HIV-negative men seeking the attention they think HIV-positive men get. He offered an analogy from his past work:

 

I taught disabled children for seven years. I saw parents who gave all their attention to their disabled child at the expense of their children who didn't have disabilities. The children without disabilities resented it. A lot of them acted out for attention. Some ran away as a plea for attention. One child feigned a limp in order to get attention from her mother. Maybe people are putting themselves at risk as a call for help, a call for attention, a call for acknowledgment.

That some gay men might take risks, or even seroconvert, as a call for attention reflects poorly on the gay community's ability to support all its members. We will suffer more losses if we cannot find ways to attend to the HIV-negative as well as the HIV-positive. We must find ways to assert that staying uninfected is valuable and to help HIV-negative gay men envision a future worth staying uninfected for.

 

 

Have things really gotten this bad???

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>I suspect that most are urban legends.

 

Believe what you want.

 

I know for a fact that there's a huge rift in the porn industry between the people (producers AND actors) that WANT to do bareback videos and the people that are firmly against it.

 

Remember the recent thread here about an escort "taking it" for the first time, "raw"?

 

Go ahead and stick your head in the sand. That's how the situation came about in the first place.

 

Or maybe you could do a little research, check out the infection numbers coming from the CDC, realize it really is happening, and contribute some effort to combatting the trend.

 

The choice is yours.

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Guest FirstPlace

>I think, and hope, that this

>thread is total bullshit. There

>are people who play fast

>and loose, but I seriously

>doubt that there are seroconversion

>parties.

>None of my friends in LA

>have heard about this, and

>they certainly don't feel pressured

>to seroconvert.

 

 

I also live in LA and feel this is BS s Lucky said! While there might be the odd exception I am certain that the guys who might partake do not measure on any scale. This is one of the more stupid Internet gossip threads that seems to have been popping up every few years. I do not believe that guys are intentionally infecting themselves with HIV/AIDS.

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Guest Tampa Yankee

We cannot repeal the law of gravity... and sadly we cannot repeal the law of natural selection, where the 'less fit' (mentally and/or physically) are eliminated by elements in the environment. More sadly, these 'les fit' are taking the unsuspecting with them... that is the greater trajedy to this whole affair. I dislike having to take an intemperate tone today, but I am so moved.

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Guest FirstPlace

>Excerpts from world.com article on STD:

>

>

>

>These guys need help:

>

>http://world.std.com/~wij/hiv-neg/Chapter19.html

>

This 1995 article has nothing to do with people intentionally wanting to become infected. It has to do with the psycholgy of thinking one is infected and in denial over testing. This is well documented by the CDC and has been an issue for 20 years now, especially with Gay men. Yet again it has nothing to do with people who have a 'party' to become intentionally infected.

 

As for barebackking that is a personal choice if one wants to take the risk (if not infected). There are many BB parties about.. though many allow use of condoms.

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Yes, I've read the CDC article and I realize that de-Nile isn't just a river in Egypt. And as Tampa Yankee puts it, ". . . sadly we cannot repeal the law of natural selection, where the 'less fit' (mentally and/or physically) are eliminated by elements in the environment." And certainly, there are some very foolish people who may have intentionally infected themselves for whatever wacky reason. However, as Firstplace indicated, none of this has anything to do with what I belive is the urban legend of gay many intentionally having sex parties where they intentionally engage in unprotected anal sex with men that they know to be HIV+. I believe that this legend, like many other urban, gay legends originates with homophobic elements of society with an anti-gay agenda to propogate. This is just my suspicion -- paranoid though it might be : )

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>There are many BB parties about..

 

Wait a minute! Earlier in the thread you said you thought the idea is BS and now you say "there are many..."

 

You can't have it both ways.

 

A BB party is exactly the same as a "seroconversion party". Even if all attendees have their most recent test results (and you trust them), they are only as "clean" as their last test and may well have seroconverted 2 hours later.

 

Which way do you want it here? ;-) Is it happening or isn't it?

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Hi Firstplace: :)

>This 1995 article has nothing to

>do with people intentionally wanting

>to become infected.

 

I was quite mistaken to leave the date off this quote from Bill Johnston's book: 'HIV-Negative: How the Uninfected Are Affected by AIDS' and to mislabel it an article.(haste makes waste)

This was the first mention I could find in my research that specifically goes to the reason for seroconversion. Now what new circumstances have changed since 1995??? except that life expectantcy has increased through improved medical drugs and regimen for those are poz.

 

What in the world would cause an apparently healthy individual to infect himself intentionally I'll have to leave to the psychiatrists. ITS NUTS!

 

This trend is most disturbing and when some explotive TV show gets a bead on this story all hell will break loose and should!!

 

Take care, Les

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I don't think that a BB party is the same thing as the urban legend. As I understand the urban legend to be, HIV- men (men who know they're negative) intentionally engage in sex with men that they know to be HIV+ with the desire to become infected. With BB parties, who knows the intent of all the participants. I would assume (and hope) that most are HIV+ and that they reject the assumption that reinfection bares no risks (such as the recent publicity surround Andrew Sullivan). This is certainly not a belief supported by current medical thinking and certainly not a belief that I would want to experiment with if I were HIV+. I'm also sure many others participate in BB parties without knowing their HIV status, but assuming that they are HIV+. (Certainly an example of denial.) Who knows, perhaps some participate desiring to become infected. Of course this is possible. There are idiots everywhere. And certainly BB parties are very bad, bad, bad, bad thing which we should all condemn!!!!! But I do not believe that BB parties are what the propogators of this particular homophobic, urban legend are talking about.

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There are gays with internalized homophobia, and there are gays that think they are "better" because they are HIV negative. There seem to be several users of this board that want to paint people with HIV as willingly infecting others. To me, that is just another form of internalized homophobia. You can put any color you want on it, but it is still bigotry.

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I don't recall anyone here denouncing people with HIV as willingly infecting others -- using a broad brush like that. However, I don't think that condemning the behavior (willing to risk infecting others) has anything at all to do with internalized homophobia or bigotry.

 

Since when is it bigotry to think that purposely putting others at risk for a grave disease is morally repugnant?

 

Sorry, I think you're way out in left field on this one.

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Guest FirstPlace

>>There are many BB parties about..

>

>Wait a minute! Earlier in the

>thread you said you thought

>the idea is BS and

>now you say "there are

>many..."

>

>You can't have it both ways.

>

>

>A BB party is exactly the

>same as a "seroconversion party".

>Even if all attendees have

>their most recent test results

>(and you trust them), they

>are only as "clean" as

>their last test and may

>well have seroconverted 2 hours

>later.

>

Hmmm clarifications, I love them :( I have seen loads of BB parties adverts. Yet I associate thos with people who are POZ and not a mixture of the two. I tend to feel that virtualy all who attend know their health situation is already POZ. With that said maybe there are or should be parties with people verified as negative. Yet I still do not believe that one would intentionally infect themseveles (except for the rare few who do not register on any scale) at one of these parties. I feel if you are a Top and negative and attend these parties thinking you will not be infected due to your preference is stupidity nothing else.

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Guest Zach DC

Hey Deej, thanks for sharing your LA connection. You spoke about the "pressure to seroconvert" among your friends in LA. When first hearing about these conversion parties, that "pressure" you speak of is what I feared true.

 

Many people (including some barebackers) who go against the flow of society, consider themselves rebels. On a basic level, I respect all rebels. They are making personal choices, whether or not I agree with them. They find strength to change themselves, if not the world. They fight the flow.

 

Sadly, it seems the driving force behind these conversion parties is not rebellion, but just the opposite, conformity. Conformists make choices out of weakness, influenced by society. They give in. They go with the flow.

 

That's what I found so alarming about this whole conversion phenomonon. Conformity is powerful.

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Guest Zach DC

>A BB party is exactly the

>same as a "seroconversion party".

 

Hey again Deej. Yes, Bareback Parties and Seroconversion Parties may have many similarities. But it is my understanding that they have at least one distinct difference.

 

Bareback parties basically consist of raw sex, no condoms. Lots of POZ men having sex with lots of POZ men. If the party includes men who are NEG, at least these guys have many risk-free and lower risk options---voyeurism, JO, oral sex, BD/SM, WS, etc. These Neg men may or may not choose to engage in the riskiest of acts, anal sex.

The theme of the party is sex without latex.

 

Seroconversion parties have a unique distinction. At least one NEG participant wants to be infected. No if's or maybe's. He plans to be infected. He intends to submit to the riskiest of acts, taking semen up his butt from his POZ partner(s). And in effect, he is documenting the day and time, and often, the person or persons who infected him.

The theme of the party is converting one or more NEG men.

 

Since my first post, I've searched the web for these conversion rituals. Yes, these parties are advertised on the web. In PlanetOut I found an informative article about barebacking. It also details one man's plan to be infected by his POZ lover. It's a startling revelation. They frankly discuss the whole dynamics of their relationship and just how they've reached this decision.

 

http://www.planetout.com/pno/people/hiv/poz/bareback.html

(This article, "A Ride on the Wild Side," is long. The conversion story is found under header 'The Ultimate Intimacy.')

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Guest Zach DC

Hey Lucky, thanks for your input. I'm sorry if I'm one who's words you find homophobic. My post was not to offend, certainly not to assign blame to anyone, POZ, NEG, Gay or otherwise. Just the opposite. I was trying to say that no one is to blame.

 

In this era of AIDS, there's a backlash, an increase in HIV infection among young gay men. I was theorizing on the reasons.

 

New medications, new hope, people living POZ and healthy. Their strive for equality and good living. In all this progress, things change. Mindsets change.

 

And that is what I was speaking about. In our battle against AIDS ...in all our achievements...have some unfortunate (and blameless) side effects arisen? Have we relaxed our attitudes toward HIV?...are we too relaxed? People openly and frankly discuss their status. It's OK to be POZ. But, do some read a mixed signal coming from these best of intentions. Is POZ "cool"? Is it cooler than NEG?

 

I ask this in an effort to understand why someone HIV negative would wish to be positive? Why would he make that choice?

 

Are his POZ friends having better sex than he?...sex without restrictions, completely uninhibited?......Is he tired of living with the constant fear of infection?...the endless HIV tests?....Is he resigning to the "inevitable"?......Does this NEG man covet his POZ neighbor's perceived "luxury"?...who's grass is greener?...the neighbor's life of medication or his own lifetime of prevention and worry?

 

These underlying thoughts, they're on a deeply personal level. That makes it so difficult to tackle them. We have trouble even talking about them. (Hell, our discussion here has already become strained.) But clearly, there is no one to blame. No selfish agendas. No homophobia. No bashing. These thoughts are subtle and blameless.

 

Ultimately, someone wishing to convert to POZ is making a personal choice. However, I find this choice hard to understand. Is it selfish Hedonism? Or subtle conformity? A desire to fit in? Or give in? Is it survivor's guilt? Jealousy? Is POZ cool? And Lucky, that's why I raised this topic--to learn and discuss and participate.

 

Maybe seroconversion rituals are all just an urban legend. I hope so. I hope nobody NEG would ever wish to convert to POZ. But if some people have this desire, secretly or spoken, I'd like to understand why.

 

If it's true, someone wants to convert POZ, it's too easy for us to silently nod our heads and think him "troubled"...or to scream "What the fuck is this wacko thinking?" But this won't get anyone revealing deep secrets. It all just stays buried. No open discussions. Nothing gets resolved. Denial has already fucked this era pretty good. I'd rather not encourage it any further.

 

And lastly, Lucky, I must emphasize that my discussion does not stem from bigotry or homophobia. I'm sorry if you felt that my motivation. I'm not polarizing any groups. I discuss NEG and POZ because this topic requires it. But there is no US against THEM, no BAD versus GOOD. No one to blame. It just ain't about that.

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