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From his twenty-first birthday on, Roper and his friends fed their addiction to the raunchy, sensuous night scene--oceans of men, just off work, jammed together side to side, front to back. Occasionally a knife fight broke out when security guards were out of sight. The only women around were those wanting money.
Men in drag circulated. When Nogales policias came through, the men of the night were hauled away to jail for a day or two. They'd always meet macho, married men or other seemingly straight "hombres," who appreciated sex, as long as they were a "top. If you're giving it, you're not homosexual; if you're getting it, you are. The ideal man is "straight. Nogales has none. But throughout Mexico, cantinas are meeting places for men of all classes.
In Nogales, as in other cities, a handful of cantinas serve as safe havens for men to find men for sex. Dining out and sleeping in Nogales lairs became ritual. He never paid for sex, but sometimes offered his weekend companions 30 pesos for taxi fare home. His lovers, often married with families, included lonely factory workers, lawyers and doctors.
Even in the '90s, Roper quickly learned condoms weren't popular among his sex partners. He insisted they use lubricant jelly; many had previously used oily hand creams or nothing at all. Since social stigma for testing abounds, international and national health officials believe Mexico's actual HIV incidence is considerably higher than statistics indicate.
The World Health Organization estimates for each HIV case reported in Mexico , there are at least four additional unreported cases out there--people undiagnosed or those who don't report to the state health department. Many Sonorans associate HIV with gay foreigners and call it the "gringo gay disease," or the disease that strikes rich men who travel a lot.