HIV Negative, A Cautionary Tale
I am writing this as a cautionary tale to anyone who decides to go to Thailand with the assumption that it is relatively safe to have unprotected heterosexual sex with bargirls and masseuses. No one can control what you do once you arrive in the “land of smiles” but yourselves. However, with that being said, I hope that what I have to say in this piece will make at least some of you change your mind about not “wrapping up”.
I’ll begin with some very elementary statistics. You may have heard that according to some studies HIV is only transmitted 0.04% of the time, or 1 out of every 2,380 acts, to men with heterosexual intercourse. But what you might not know is that is only for wealthy, developed countries, like the United States or the UK. In low-income, underdeveloped countries, WHICH INCLUDES THAILAND, the transmission rate is actually 0.38%, or less than half of one percent. But that is still one out of every 263 acts. Do you want to be on the wrong end of that number? Do you want to be the one unlucky guy out of 263 who takes home an incurable disease that you can spread to others? What if you have a wife or girlfriend at home? Did you think about that?
I’ll start with some basics about myself. I’m under 50. I’m divorced, with no children. I’ve had a pretty decent life. I was a traveling businessman. While I traveled, of course, I liked to play around with the opposite sex. Alright, maybe more than a bit. I was always fairly careful about keeping the little head wrapped up and getting regularly tested. At one point in my business travels, I found myself in Thailand. It opened new doors to me. It broadened my horizons. This was over a decade ago. I went through the usual. At first, it was all fun and games. Eventually I dated, became engaged to, and married bargirls. More than one. I regret becoming seriously committed to these girls, because they DID take advantage of me, and took a serious chunk of change out of my wallet every time, but I was still relatively safe, and healthy at the end of the day. Life went on. But with what I am about to tell you about, my life could have possibly NOT gone on as usual. My health, well-being, and ability to enjoy the company of the fairer sex could have irreparably altered – forever. That is what being HIV means to a person like me. It’s game over. A new normal that is neither acceptable nor tolerable to me by any means.
So a few months ago I went through a pretty dragged out and awful divorce with another Asian woman I brought here to Farangland. It was finalised “no fault”, so really it could have been a lot worse. But I made up my mind that this really was going to be the last one. Now and forever. I won’t do this to myself anymore. Marriage isn’t for me. I’ve been with the “good girls” and the “bad girls”. At the end of the day, I think at the root of it, I can never be truly happy with just one woman. The moment we have a spat or an argument of any sort, I am on the prowl for bars and cathouses. There’s nothing that a pretty smile and a nice rack of tits can’t fix, right? Tell me I’m wrong about that. It’s so much better than alcohol.
So moving along from that, I had a little extra money left in the bank when it was all over, and decided to reward myself with a trip to Thailand. Hey, I earned it, I told myself. And I know how to play safe. I’ll stay in the massage parlours I know – the big ones in Huay Kwang, and the bigger, more reputable bars like Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy, and Bangkok Bunnies in Nana Plaza. I’ll keep it wrapped up. Bring a big old box of 100 of my favourite prophylactics. What could possibly go wrong? But it did go wrong. Thing went very far “south”, and very fast.
I may be in the minority here when I do this, but I dress nicely when I am in Thailand’s red light districts. Just short of a jacket and tie. I am there to see ladies, after all, aren’t I? And I think these girls DO treat you better when you look/dress/smell better. I am younger and not bad-looking and I have no problem barfining the “unbarfinable” dancers, sometimes paying as much as 1000, 1500 baht to take them home for the evening. So after about two weeks there, just enjoying the food, the company of my old expat friends, and of course, the ladies, I decided to head out to one of the larger soapy houses in Huay Kwang. I dappered myself up as I normally do, and head out in to the evening. I remember it was a very cool night for the time of year. I arrived at said soapy feeling as I normally do, even given my experience: a mix of nervousness blended with the excitement of the hunt.
I stood in front of the large, over-sized fishbowl and picked out my fish. There must have been 50 girls in there. But something happened to me at that moment, which has never happened to me anywhere else before. Maybe this was a skill this particular masseuse learned, I don’t know. But there was something about her eyes, no matter where mine wandered in the room, she caught me, and locked me in. Total eye-to-eye contact. It felt like our souls were glued together in that instant. I was hooked. The fish hooked ME, for the first time ever. Was this love? I told myself, ‘you’re crazy’. After what you’ve been through with these bloodsuckers? ‘Do you want to leave Bangkok penniless?’ I asked myself. Well, when we got into the room, I had a very nice conversation with her. I told her in Thai that she was pretty, and I really liked her. She responded likewise with me. If it weren’t for a brothel, it would have been a regular date. So after about a half hour of this, and bathing together, drinking wine, and nice conversation, we ended up on the bed. I don’t know if it was the alcohol, or my nervousness, but I couldn’t stay hard after about 20 minutes of screwing. Too long anyway, you might say, and maybe it was. But I like to think I am still 19 and able to do this kind of thing. Well, the condom came off, and she started kissing me everywhere, and eventually she was on top of me. I got so hard that the tip of my member was rubbing against her clitoris. ‘Time for condom’, I thought, and when I reached to unwrap it, I suddenly realised that I was mid-way inside of her already. I’m not sure who thrust, because it was the heat of the moment. I had a very enjoyable time, the whole time thinking ‘what the hell am I doing?’ After we both washed up, we continued our talk, when she told me she wanted to see me again. So we exchanged Line IDs, and when she got off work at midnight, to my pleasure, I found her back at my place within the half hour.
So this went on for about a week. She stayed with me, and never paid her, except for her taxi fare back to the soapy. She went to work every morning and stayed there until midnight. Condoms weren’t used the first time, so I figured there was no point any other time, either. What was done was done. Besides, she told me that she gets tested for HIV every month, with negative results, of course. Even better yet, I believed her when she said I am the only one she doesn’t make wear a rubber. She really did come across as very sincere and likable. We went out to the late night bars that served food every night she got off work, made love half of the early morning hours, and slept in until 10 AM. I was getting laid for free, and I was really enjoying my time in Bangkok. Well, I thought I was in love. I was even thinking, maybe I’ll just move here to Bangkok, and we can share a place together. I don’t care if she works at a soapy joint. Then a Friday night hit. Talking on Line, she said, you know, I can’t keep seeing you, if you don’t pay me. That’s when it hit me, even if she DID REALLY enjoy sleeping with me, which I think she did, because as I said, I am relatively young, and handsome, she is showing her true colours. She wants the money in my wallet, AND NOT ME. So I cut it off. I spent the rest of the next week wondering if I had made a severe mistake. What if she does this with lots of men? What if she expects a big payout at the end of the week with all of them? What if she’s not making any of them wear condoms? I thought about going to the local testing clinic, but decided against it, since it wouldn’t show anything conclusively anyway. It takes 4 weeks for the 4th Generation A/B HIV Test to be over 90% accurate. One week in and it’s not even 10% accurate. There was no point.
That is when the waiting came in. I was now back in my country after spending over a month in Thailand and went to bed every night thinking “What if I have HIV?” It didn’t get better, either. It got worse. I was texting a bar girl friend of mine, who used to work in the soapies, who told me that it’s definitely NOT TRUE that the girls at this particular soapy get tested every month. Even worse, that some of them are expected to go condomless with certain Asian men who won’t spend their money / time there if they have to wear a condom! YIKES! I am not going to name the soapy but maybe some of you already have a clue which one I am talking about. I couldn’t sleep. Which is a symptom of HIV. I got a rash on my chest. Which is a symptom of HIV. My beard started thinning. Which is a symptom of HIV. I got a slight cough. Which is a symptom of HIV. I started to think to myself, this is it. This time, sir, you’ve really done it. You screwed yourself over for life over this one dumb massage girl. I remember finally going in for the test after the month had passed. The doctor told me that she couldn’t have the results to me for a WEEK! That was another WEEK of misery and “what if..” feelings. Each day felt like agony. I have never been so stressed out in my entire life. Finally, at about 4PM one day, almost 7 days later, she got back to me. When my phone binged, and I realised that the screen was telling me I had an email came from the doctor’s office, I was trembling everywhere. I fidgeted with my phone and a cigarette, shaking like a leaf. I almost dropped my smartphone on the concrete . I felt a cold sweat break out over my brow. “HIV – NON-REACTIVE”, the email read.
It took me a while, and I had to read it over several times to be sure, but finally the relief hit me, but so did the feelings of, what did I just do to myself? Why did I put myself through so much stress and agony, basically ruining my last trip in Thailand, and coming back home in misery, for one woman? Was she worth it? She was just another shark out for money, so clearly she was NOT!
I wrote this because I hope that some of you will think about this story and reflect on your own journeys, and future journeys, to the land of smiles. Do you want your trip to Southeast Asia to turn out this way? Do you want to be under this much stress worrying about HIV/AIDS just because you were absent-minded and got carried away in “love”, or just because it “feels better” without that piece of polyurethane and all of her open, secreting mucous membranes surrounding your manhood (and urethra, and your mucous membranes?). Please protect yourselves, and protect the rest of us who frequent these red-light districts, by respectfully wearing condoms. All I can do is share my unfortunate adventure with you. I know some of you will never heed my warning. But you are playing with fire. Do you want to be the guy who gets the news you are positive? Do you really want to be that guy? Because I don’t.
Great story and I am very much with you on the need to wrap up every time.
I think most guys fooling around in Bangkok wrap up most of the time but with that said, many have had an ‘episode’ like you when things got steamy and in the heat of the moment they made a decision they might later regret.
Sadly, there is a percentage of guys out there – I suspect it’s a single digit percentage of those fooling around with working girls – who never use protection. Bar owners and managers are, amazingly, disproportionately highly represented.
Partying without a party hat with good-time girls or sex workers in South-East Asia is reckless. Even if you don’t care what you may catch and what might happen to yourself, at least have some thought for the ladies you are with. They do NOT deserve to catch anything!
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