Male Sexual Assault

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ok, this is the only time I'm going to mention this, so here goes. I was a victim of sexual assault not too long ago. I got incredibly drunk, went to the wrong place with the wrong kind of crowd and I paid the price. I just want people to know that this DOES happen and it's something gay guys should be careful about. Here in the UK everyone who helped me afterwards was 100% supportive and absolutely zero judgmental about the whole thing. This was particularly helpful since I felt VERY guilty and stupid about what happened. I won't fool myself, I put myself in a very inconvenient situation while I was in a very inconvenient state, so I know it was mostly my fault (as my boyfriend went out of his way to point out). Still, for victims of rape (I HATE that word), I advise to hold judgements and I-told-you-so's for a later time, they really need some support and just someone to talk to and confide in.

Fortunately the "incident" didn't involve any physical violence of any sort for me (yes, I was THAT drunk... and I have no idea who it was). But it still put me at risk for Sexually Transmitted Diseases, including HIV/AIDS. In the Greater London area, it is believed that 15% of homosexual men are carrying HIV and almost a quarter of them doesn’t even know it. This was quite unsettling to find out... I might have been infected with HIV. Fortunately there is a preventive treatment called PEP (Post exposure prophylaxis) and it's designed for healthcare professionals who tend AIDS patients and accidentally come into contact with infected blood. It's a 4-week course of anti-retroviral drugs that should be begun as soon as possible after exposure and within a maximum of 72hrs after it. This treatment is somewhat experimental still, but has been seen to be highly effective in eliminating the HIV virus from one's body (the success rate is somewhere near 80% according to some studies). But a warning, these drugs (at least in the UK) are not licensed for this use and the long-term effects and not yet known and they also can cause some uncomfortable side effects like nausea, depression and diarrhoea (these are chemotherapy drugs). Still, they use the PEP because it's proven very effective in trials and is the best solution available. For anyone in my situation (unprotected anal intercourse with a gay man), it's a no brainer to take it. The truth is that HIV is rather hard to get (relatively). Via a blood transfusion it's between 90% and 100% you'll get it. But the second riskiest activity (anal sex) drops to a maximum of 3%. In teh UK they only recommend PEP for cases in which you know you've been in contact with an HIV positive person... or for gay people, like myself. They don't really deny anyone the treatment, but they want you to be informed of the actual risks of catching HIV for you to weigh them against the side effects of the treatment. I have to be tested 3 months after the "incident" to see if the treatment was successful I didn't get HIV, then another 3 months after that to see if the drugs didn't just slow the appearance fo the virus. Oh well... life goes on.

What can I say to others? Well, not getting drunk is not completely the answer (tho it would definitely help, hehe). Just be careful about what you do when you've had too much to drink. Know your limits and don't go over them. Always try to be accompanied by close friend who you trust and try to always be in view of each other. These are similar precautions women take when going out, so it shouldn't be too different for gay guys. Be careful and look out for yourself and your friends.

I'm very thankful to the people at UCH, Mortimer Market and The Heaven for being so supportive in such a dark and terrible time for me. I think this is one of the best-prepared cities for these types of cases and I'm very grateful for being here. Thank God for the NHS (UK's health care system) for helping me (and all free of charge). If you want more information, look any of these places up in the Internet or email me with any questions.

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