PREVENTION IS ONE OF THE KEYS TO ENDING HIV
We can end HIV with more testing, early treatment and continued commitment to minimising the risk of HIV transmission.
3 safe sex facts
Fact: Condoms are extremely effective.
They’re the best protection we’ve got against HIV and against most STIs. Condoms can occasionally break if used incorrectly but using lots of lube will prevent most breakages.
Fact: The presence of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) can make it easier to transmit or acquire HIV.
If you’re HIV positive, STIs or other infections can increase or ‘spike’ your viral load making it more likely that HIV will be transmitted. An STI infection can also make people without HIV susceptible to HIV infection.
Fact: Sex toys can transmit HIV and STIs when shared.
Washing toys in warm soapy water and drying them between use and between partners or using a new condom on them with each partner prevents HIV and STI transmission.
What are risk reduction strategies?
Risk reduction strategies are used to reduce risk of HIV transmission while having sex. Using condoms for fucking is the best known, most widely used and most effective strategy but there are others that can reduce (but not eliminate) your risk of getting or passing on HIV.
The following strategies have varying degrees of success but success is based on many varied conditions which must be met. Knowledge of your HIV status and that of your partners is critical. RRS strategies may include:
- Sero-sorting is unprotected anal sex between guys of the same HIV status. You have to know your own and your partner’s status for serosorting to be effective. Just assuming it’s the same is not enough.
- Undetectable viral load means HIV is present in a person’s blood but it is below the level where standard tests can pick it up. For HIV-positive men, an undetectable viral load sustained over six months or more makes HIV transmission much less likely … though not impossible. To make an informed decision about unprotected anal sex based on undetectable viral load, you need to know how recently you got your viral load results (or how recently he got his results) so you can decide whether they really are ‘current’. Even with an undetectable viral load, HIV transmission risk increases if either of you has an STI.
- Withdrawal is when the top pulls out before cumming. This strategy is relatively ineffective for the bottom (the guy being receptive), and doesn’t reduce transmission risk to the top very much at all.
- Neg top/Pos bottom is when the HIV-negative guy tops an HIV-positive bottom. Topping is less risky than bottoming but still includes risk of HIV transmission from top to bottom and vice versa.
- Negotiated safety is a particular kind of relationship agreement where HIV-negative partners in a regular relationship disclose their HIV status to each other, discuss risks and agree to repeat HIV testing before having unprotected anal sex. Any sex with other partners outside the relationship must be with condoms. For more information see Let’s Talk About It
All of these strategies include risk of transmission of HIV and other STIs. Condoms remain the most effective way to prevent transmission.
To understand the level of risk involved in each of the strategies, use the Risk Calculator
It is important to note that under most states’ public health laws, people are required to disclose their HIV positive status before sex (NSW and Tasmania) and/or take reasonable measures to prevent HIV transmission during sex (ACT, NSW, Qld, SA, Tas and Vic).
Think you’ve been exposed to HIV? Act fast.
A wild night out, hot sex with a guy and then… waking up to the realisation that you didn’t use a condom. Or maybe the condom broke and you’re not sure of your partner’s HIV status. It happens.
But if you’re still in the 72-hour window after possible exposure (and the earlier the better), get straight onto a four-week course of anti-HIV medication known as PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis), which will give you the best chance of blocking HIV infection. For more information go to GET PEP.