It’s important to ensure our HIV and sexual health vocabulary is up to scratch to avoid saying something stigmatising or simply incorrect. Here are some terms all actively sexual gay guys should know.
If you’re HIV positive you’ve probably already heard of this. For guys who don’t know, viral load (VL) refers to the measure of number of HIV particles in one’s blood system – the higher your viral load, the greater the risk of transmitting HIV. Though with treatment, some poz guys can lower their viral load to an undetectable level and dramatically reduce risk of transmission (if kept undetectable for over 6 months and in the absence of any STI’s). So it’s important that poz guys monitor their VL regularly.
Short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP is a method where HIV negative guys take medication prior to risky sexual encounters to prevent HIV infection. Whilst PrEP is not available in Australia yet, ACON is advocating for this additional HIV preventative tool to be made available and trials will be starting soon in NSW.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) involves taking medication after being exposed to HIV to prevent HIV infection. PEP is available in Australia and is most effective shortly after being exposed (ASAP and within 72 hours) so the sooner the guy gets onto a course of PEP the better! If you think you’ve been exposed call the 24-hour PEP Hotline on 1800 737 669.
A serodiscordant relationship is where one guy is HIV positive and the other is not. This contrasts with seroconcordant relationships, where both partners are of the same HIV status be that either both poz or neg.
5. MY STATUS IS…
Not a fancy medical word, rather the statement itself is something that every gay man should be able to say with confidence and always know. Get tested, know your status and help stop the spread of HIV.