Young Gay Men
As young gay guys, we have never known a world without HIV. Unlike our gay elders, we weren’t around during the devastation of the AIDS crisis. But HIV hasn’t gone away and is something that still affects us.
In fact, there’s been a recent increase in new HIV infections amongst gay males aged under 29. Young gay guys account for approximately a third of new infections – meaning we’re transmitting or acquiring HIV as much as guys in their 30s or 40s.
As young gay men, we have a chance to individually and collectively make a difference. We can actively play a role in ending HIV for good, and here’s how.
GET INTO A TESTING ROUTINE
While a lot of us think we may be negative, it’s important to know that a lot of cases of HIV transmission are from guys who think they are neg, but actually have HIV and don’t know it. They may fuck without condoms thinking they’re negative and unknowingly put others at risk.
That’s why starting and maintaining a frequent testing routine is crucial. We should test at least twice a year, four times if we hook up with more than 10 guys in six months and any time we think we’ve been exposed to HIV. This way, we can have confidence in our HIV status and can treat any STIs early.
Sure, if we haven’t had our first test it may feel intimidating or confusing. But the good news is, testing these days is super easy, hassle-free and available at sexual health clinics, GPs or community-based services such as a[TEST]. You can find a test site near you in NSW here.
TREATMENT IS BETTER NOW
Living with HIV in the digital age is very different to several decades ago. If in case, your HIV test result is positive, you can then be linked to the support and treatment required to ensure you can still lead a long and healthy life.
Treatment stops HIV attacking your body and keeps you and your immune system in good form. Further, you’re most infectious within the first 6 months of contracting the virus so by getting on treatment early you dramatically reduce the amount of HIV in your body and the risk of passing the virus on.
PLAY SAFE, HAVE FUN
The tools we have to prevent HIV have evolved rapidly over the last few years. While using condoms during sex still provides a great defence against HIV, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and UVL (undetectable viral load) have also emerged as very effective ways at preventing us from getting HIV. Today, there are more ways of having as hot a time as you like all while staying safe.
Fucking without using one or more of these HIV prevention strategies involve degrees of risk – greater, lesser, obvious and not so obvious. To help assess what risks you’re taking, use our risk calculator.
THE SEX-ED YOU DIDN’T GET
ACON’s SPARK program for young guys like us offers a range of workshops, events and services. They are a great way to connect with other guys, make new friends and learn a thing or two about sexual health, HIV and the gay community. Find out more about SPARK’s programs here.
Young guys have a part to play in ending HIV by 2020, and we’re never too young to start.