There are currently over 36 million people globally living with HIV, with 78 million contracting the virus since the pandemic began in the early 80s. Of those, AIDS has claimed 35 million lives across the world. Advances in medical treatment has dramatically improved the lifespan of those infected, and now those that contract HIV can expect a life expectancy significantly longer than those seroconverting in the 90s.
Even with the wealth of technology at our fingertips these days, there are many guys that are not as informed as they could be about HIV and the various treatment options. Since knowledge is power, staying on top of the latest news is the best protection for men that are having sex with other men, including men that are HIV positive. The more men know about all the options available to them, the more likely they are to clear up some of the misconceptions that continue to persist today regarding men with HIV.
Of course, most men know that the ultimate in protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is through the use of condoms. A popular option among men both positive and negative currently is PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), available in pill form under the pharmaceutical name of Truvada, which prevents exposure to any potential transmission of the HIV virus. For men that are averse to using condoms, communication is an integral component when hooking up with HIV+ men in order to protect against the contraction of sexual transmitted infections.
Men that are positive take antiretroviral medications (ARVs) to reduce the virus in their bloodstream down to undetectable levels to decrease the risk of transmitting HIV to their partner, also referred to as TasP, treatment as prevention. Although this measure is not a cure, it is an impactful method in preventing the transmission of the virus. What are some guidelines for men to know when hooking up with guys with HIV?
HIV-positive men, once they have disclosed their status, expect to have the admission of their status kept private and this is tantamount to building trust, no matter the classification of the encounter or relationship. Be respectful enough to maintain the privacy of his status as there are still repercussions for men that are positive. When encountering someone that is HIV-positive, there is no need to make assumptions when all it takes is a few questions to be on the same page.
Asking the Tough Questions
Asking the hard questions up front can clear the air down the road, and eliminate a lot of the stigma and concerns that come with the issue of safer sex and working through the fears surrounding the topic. Being open in the beginning can make the scenario of discussing status less overwhelming.
The Layers of Protection
There a multitude of ways in which to engage in safer sexual activity when one person has HIV and the discussion between you and your partner should include methods that both parties are comfortable with. Once you are both on the same page, a mutual understanding can be established.
Recognizing the Stigma of HIV
A slew of misconceptions about HIV-positive men still cloud the issue of safer sex, with prejudice and assumptions at the core of the matter. Being HIV-positive doesn’t have to be mired in uncertainty and one of the first components to being comfortable is setting these notions aside towards an agreement both of you can deal with.
Placing everything on the table and being able to discuss issues openly is one of the most effective ways at defeating the stigma that surrounds HIV and sex between gay men.
If you have questions, concerns, or need clarification about HIV, HIV status, PrEP, TasP, or STI’s, consult and discuss with your physician.