Amy Shamblen Jfhfjirnwce Unsplash

How To Not Be A Dick About HIV

In our reluctance to use that three letter word, are we isolating guys living with HIV, and fuelling new HIV infections by kidding ourselves? 

Amy Shamblen Jfhfjirnwce Unsplash

How To Not Be A Dick About HIV


In our reluctance to use that three letter word, are we isolating guys living with HIV, and fuelling new HIV infections by kidding ourselves? 


We get it; talking about HIV when you’re hot and hard or having an intense chat session isn’t exactly a turn on. But there comes a time when it needs to be addressed. Staying silent and not even discussing HIV (especially if you’re not protecting yourself with condoms) can feed into ignorance and misconceptions about risk. 

Let’s bring HIV back into the conversation. There's been a huge amount of progress in HIV treatment in the last 30 years, so people living with HIV can now lead long and healthy lives. Talking about it more will reduce stigma and help prevent more of us from getting the virus.

Did you know...

People living with HIV who are on antiretroviral treatment and maintain an undetectable viral load for at least six months do not sexually transmit HIV.

Learn more about U=U

#1: Think about what you're saying

There's a big issue with some of the language used in HIV status announcements that you might not have picked up on - and that's the use of words like "clean". Think about what that word means - and now think about what the opposite of "clean" is (hint: it's "dirty"). 

Using a word like "clean" to show that you don't have HIV actually devalues people who are living with the virus. There's a whole lot of stigma around HIV that the gay community has spent 30 years trying to fight, and every time someone uses that word in their profile, it just proves how much work there  is still to do.

Using nasty terms like “clean” so you can avoid saying that three-letter word increases stigma toward guys who have HIV, and ultimately discourages other guys from getting tested for fear of finding out that they’re not “clean” any more.

Using the word "clean" on your profile, or saying that you'll only hook up with other negative guys, is on a par to writing "No Asians or Indians". It's unnecessary and rude, damaging to the people who fall into those categories, and it's also ignorant.

 

"Clean" Is For The Shower, Not Your HIV Status

Read - Why you shouldn't ask people if they are "clean"

"Clean" Is For The Shower, Not Your HIV Status

Read - Why you shouldn't ask people if they are "clean"

#2: Get Educated

Firstly, we all need to know that HIV isn't a result of promiscuity. There are men who fuck 50 guys a month who are HIV negative, and there are people who picked up the virus on the same day they lost their virginity. Gay and bi guys have a higher chance of contracting the HIV, but it's not because we're all sluts - it's actually simple biology and epidemiology.

Next, some facts:

  • Fucking a guy who has HIV doesn't mean you're going to get HIV. Lots of guys on HIV treatment are "undetectable". What that means is that the treatment is working and the virus has stopped replicating, so it's much harder for it to be passed on during sex.
  • 1 in 5 HIV-positive gay/bi guys in NZ don't know they have HIV - which means they're likely to have a high viral load and a really good chance of passing on HIV through unprotected sex.

What both of those facts add up to is that it's statistically safer to have sex with someone who knows they're positive and is undetectable than it is to fuck someone who doesn't know their status (which includes guys who assume they're negative but haven't been testing regularly enough, and so actually have no idea).

On top of this, a person is most infectious within the first 2 weeks of getting HIV. The evidence shows that HIV is almost always spread by people who don't know they have it.

Learn More

HIV 101 Three Reasons Gay Guys Are More Likely To Get HIV HIV Stigma & Discrimination Explained

#3: Use condoms for HIV Equality

In New Zealand, if you have anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV, legally they don't have to tell you their HIV status, as long as you use condoms.

That's because condoms and lube make us all HIV equal - when used every time and correctly, they reduce the risk of HIV transmission to almost 0%.

 

Get Free Condoms Delivered Discretely

#4: Get Tested Regularly

If you're having anal sex and using condoms and lube every time, you should be getting tested for HIV twice a year. The more times you have anal sex without condoms, the more often you should test.

There's a window period with HIV testing, so a negative result today actually only means you were negative 6 to 12 weeks ago. A standard HIV test won't pick up if you caught the virus yesterday or last week, so testing negative doesn't mean you've been given clearance to go out and have bareback sex.

Knowing your status means you can access support, and start taking medications that will improve your health and significantly reduce your risk of passing on HIV.

Some apps now encourage users to list their HIV status on their profile. It's great that people are getting tested, and showing it in your profile normalises HIV testing. But remember that relying on the negative HIV status of your partners to prevent HIV is risky. Mostly, things go wrong when people just assume that they’re still negative when they haven’t been tested recently.

And remember: it doesn't matter who's positive and who's negative if you're taking action to protect yourself.

Did you know you can test yourself for HIV?

Our self-tests are only a oral swab & take 20 mins

Order your self-test!

Not sure how often to test?

You can use our testing frequency tool to find out how often you should be testing, as well as sign up for helpful reminders to keep you on track.

Testing is totally normal and testing regularly is just a good thing to do for your own sexual health and that of your partners and community.

Are you a man (this includes trans men) who has sex with other men?

Are you a trans woman or gender diverse person who has sex with men?

Are you in a closed, monogamous relationship?

Is your partner living with HIV?

Do you use a condom every time you have penetrative sex?

Do they have an undetectable viral load?

How many sexual partners have you had in the last 6 months?

How many sexual partners have you had in the last 6 months?

Once a year

Based on your answers, you are most likely at low risk of contracting HIV and should be testing for HIV & STIs once a year as part of an annual health check.

If you’re concerned about your personal risk, we would recommend speaking to your doctor and explaining why you think you might be at risk or find a testing service right for you here.

Once a year

Evidence of HIV can sometimes not be detected by a test for up to three months. If you and your partner decide that you no longer want to use condoms or PrEP you will need to be monogamous for at least three months, and then both receive a negative HIV test result.

After this, we'd recommend testing for HIV once a year, as part of an annual health check-up.

Get a test here and/or sign up to get testing reminders sent to you via text or email

Because your partner is undetectable there is no risk of you contracting HIV.

You would need to be testing if your partner experiences a treatment interruption.

Every Six Months

If your partner doesn’t have an undetectable viral load then you should be using condoms or PrEP

We recommend getting an HIV test every six months.

Get a test here and/or sign up to get testing reminders sent to you via text or email.

Once a year

We recommend getting an HIV test and a full STI screen once a year.

With regular, consistent condom use it is unlikely that you have contracted HIV. But, other STIs like syphilis and gonorrhoea can still be easily transmitted through oral sex, rimming or even using spit as lube.

Get a test here and/or sign up to get testing reminders sent to you via text or email

Every Six Months

We recommend getting an HIV test and a full STI screen every six months.

With regular, consistent condom use it is unlikely that you have contracted HIV. But, other STIs like syphilis and gonorrhoea can still be easily transmitted through oral sex, rimming or even using spit as lube.

Get a test here and/or sign up to get testing reminders sent to you via text or email.

Every Three months

Based on your answers, we recommend getting an HIV test and a full STI screen every three months.

With regular, consistent condom use it is unlikely that you have contracted HIV. But, other STIs like syphilis and gonorrhoea can still be easily transmitted through oral sex, rimming or even using spit as lube.

Get a test here and/or sign up to get testing reminders sent to you via text.

Once a year

Based on your answers, we recommend getting an HIV test and a full STI screen once a year.

Get a test here and/or sign up to get testing reminders sent to you via text or email

As you struggle with consistent condom use, you should consider taking PrEP to stay safe.

Every Six Months

Based on your answers, we recommend getting an HIV test and a full STI screen every six months.

Get a test here and/or sign up to get testing reminders sent to you via text or email.

As you struggle with consistent condom use, you should consider taking PrEP to stay safe.

Every Three Months

If you're having unprotected sex with casual partners, then you're at high risk of HIV. You need to be testing every three months.

Get a test here and/or sign up to get testing reminders sent to you via text.

As you struggle with consistent condom use, you should consider taking PrEP to stay safe.

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