Mike’s not the only one who’s run his own cost-benefit analysis and has decided to stop worrying. This year, according to a Kaiser survey, only 15 percent of people polled said they were personally very concerned with becoming infected with HIV—down from 24 percent in 1997. The rest are people like John (not his real name), a married 33-year-old lawyer in Los Angeles. This year, John scored himself a mistress—an aspiring actress who has him paying her rent in exchange for something that’s a little harder to put a number on.
“She’s 23 and presumably dating,” John says about his mistress. But he, too, has never seen anybody he knows get sick, and so he’s been making his own risk assessments about his shadowy sex life. He actually insists they don’t use condoms. “I didn’t take a mistress so I could feel like I’m back in college again,” he says. “I’m not sure why she acquiesces, but she does.”
And like the Gansevoort Three, he’s not worried. Sure, he’s an Ivy League graduate and should probably know better, but he thinks “the risk of a male contracting AIDS from heterosexual intercourse with someone in her socio-economic class in the United States is very small.” How small? He’s not sure. But the one thing he is sure of—along with many other guys in his generation—is this: It’s just not worth fussing over a little foil packet.