GMFA launch new HIV prevention campaign for young gay men.
Advert 1: ‘He’d tell me if he was positive’: Think Again
Most HIV infections in gay guys in the last year came from men who didn’t know their status .
If someone doesn’t tell you that he’s HIV-positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is HIV-negative. Most of the time when we have sex we don’t actually talk about HIV at all. This is true of men with HIV as well as of men who have not been diagnosed. HIV is associated with fear and stigma, so if you are positive, you might not want to be open about your status because you could get rejected, or because you don’t want other people to gossip about you.
In some cases, if you are about to have bareback sex with someone and he is HIV-positive, he might assume that you are as well. Similarly, a negative guy might expect that the guy he’s about to have sex with is also negative if a condom is not used. Making assumptions about someone else’s HIV status based on their sexual behaviour is not a reliable way of preventing transmission.
Almost one in five gay guys in the UK who have HIV have not been diagnosed, and most of these men will believe that they are uninfected. So if someone doesn’t say that they have HIV, or says that they are HIV-negative, it may be because they don’t know themselves. Men who have not been diagnosed will not be on treatment, which means that they will have a higher viral load than men on treatment and will be more likely to pass the infection to their partners. If a guy is on treatment, and has an undetectable viral load, he is unlikely to pass on the virus.
It is the responsibility of both partners to prevent the transmission of HIV. If you are having sex with someone, it’s advisable that you always use a condom or only engage in sex that is lower risk for contracting HIV. You can get more information on how risky different sexual acts are by visiting our How Risky Is…? section.
Advert 2: ‘I’m too young to get HIV’: Think Again
One in every three gay guys living in the UK, diagnosed with HIV in the last year, is in his teens and 20s .
It’s easy to think that HIV won’t happen to you. Some guys don’t see HIV as a relevant health issue for them and others even believe that there’s a cure. Because medication has got much better at treating people with HIV it’s now fairly rare to see people with visible symptoms of HIV. The truth is that HIV can happen to anyone, at any age; it doesn’t matter if you are 16 or 86.
Although HIV-medication is very effective, there is still no cure for HIV. You can protect yourself and your partners by using a condom when having anal sex and getting regular tests for HIV and other STIs. If youbecome positive, it’s best to find out early so that you can starttreatment at the right time, which will prevent you from getting ill and also make it less likely that you pass the virus on to your sexual partners.
If you are a gay or bisexual man living in London, you can order a free HIV home-testing kit from 56 Dean Street online here.