In Portugal, as in Europe, numbers of HIV infection between gays are growing since the last ten years. Is that relapse a rejection of the dominant speech that is imposed on sexual minorities? Is having less preventive sexual practices in relation with the standardization of the HIV infection that brings a risk habit, now closer and better known than twenty years ago, and a safe sex fatigue?
My research points that, in Portugal, the condition of oppressed minority predominates in gay identity. The socially transgressive context in which take place their sexual exchanges sets the individuals in a territory considered “out of limits”.
As part of an ethnographical research on sexual behaviours in the Portuguese population, I realized ten interviews with gays, from 20 to 65 years, in the areas of Lisbon and Porto during 2008.
The most part of the interviewed is having sexual relations with occasional partners, notably in meeting places and saunas. The questioned persons define these relations as sexual exchanges dominated by the only and simple quest of pleasure, anonymity and freedom, in a social context marked by homophobia. These moments, governed by transgression, are lived as parentheses in daily life. In this special context, knowing that prevention takes more the path of duty (having to protect oneself and having to protect partners) than free choice, desire and pleasure, men are breaking occasionally the safer sex rules, the rules imposed by the prevalent social norms.
Without forgetting that the difficulty in maintaining long-term prevention sexual practices, the increase of the longevity of HIV positive people and regarding trivialization of illness led by HAART, all aspects have to be considered to explain the relapse of HIV prevention, this question of transgression of the actors and their practices must be added to the dynamics of risky sexual practices.