As poz guys, it’s important we start treatment early, monitor our viral load and test regularly for STIs so we can be sure we’ll stay healthy and keep our partners safe.
TREATMENT IS KEY
Right now, over 90% of poz guys in NSW are on treatment, and that’s because we know that it allows us to lead a long and healthy life. Treatment even puts us on a fairly even playing field with neg guys when it comes to life expectancy.
Early treatment is really important because we’re most infectious within the first 6 months of contracting the virus, and as the START study demonstrates, early, if not immediate, treatment:
- Increases life expectancy
- Improves health
- Prevents serious illness by more than 50% compared to those who delay starting treatment
The big news for us is that being on treatment reduces the amount of HIV (viral load) present in our body, and for most of us, to an undetectable level. As the findings from the PARTNER, PARTNER2 and Opposites Attract studies have established, guys with an undetectable viral load who adhere to their medication can be confident they will not transmit HIV!
So if we meet a negative guy that we want to play with or be in a relationship with, our status shouldn’t be a barrier given the negligible risk of transmission.
MONITOR AND TEST FOR STIs REGULARLY
When you’re on treatment, it’s important to continue to monitor your viral load through regular testing. This is to ensure it keeps lowering, or if you’ve already achieved an undetectable viral load, to help you maintain it.
It’s also a good idea to get regular checkups for STIs. We may experience more severe symptoms for some STIs which may also increase the risk of onward HIV transmission. Regular STI tests mean we can address any undiagnosed STIs early and keep our partners safe. Speak to your doctor about getting tested or visit a sexual health clinic near you here.
STAY SAFE TOGETHER
As poz guys, we and our partners need to consider our choices around condoms, PrEP and TasP (treatment as prevention) as safe sex strategies.
If we do happen to fuck without a condom, it is important to know and practise other risk reduction strategies to help protect ourselves and our partners. While PrEP and TasP are effective HIV prevention strategies, condoms provide the best protection against many STIs.
The NSW Parliament has recently passed the Public Health Amendment (Review) Bill 2017 which made amendments to section 79 the Public Health Act 2010. The changes directly affect disclosure of HIV in sexual settings and came into force on 18 October 2017. Read more about the changes in detail here.
Ending HIV by 2020 is possible and as poz guys we have a huge role to play.