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Preventing HIV

There are more ways to prevent and treat HIV than ever before. Despite this, it’s common for guys to feel intimidated by the thought of testing for HIV, going to sexual health services, or even just accessing some of the tools for HIV prevention.

There are a number of ways to prevent the transmission of HIV, including:

  1. Condoms – Condoms and water-based lube remain one of the cheapest and most readily available forms of effective HIV prevention.
  2. PrEP – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP is a once a day pill that creates a highly effective biomedical barrier to HIV. This means that even if you are exposed to HIV through condomless sex, the virus is unable to process and multiply. Want to know more about PrEP? Check out this video.
  3. PEP – Post-Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP is a once a day pill that has to be commenced within 72 hours of possibly being exposed to HIV. PEP then needs to continue to be taken for one month to ensure the HIV does not have a chance to process and multiply. Need to access PEP, head to GetPEP.info.
  4. UVL - Undetectable Viral Load or UVL refers to the amount of virus circulating in an HIV positive individual’s blood. Modern treatments for HIV are so advanced that they can reduce the virus in the bloodstream to undetectable levels. UVL primarily allows people living with HIV to maintain a healthy immune system and live a long and healthy life – the same as someone who is HIV negative! UVL also makes the virus untransmittable and is the most effective way of preventing HIV transmission. This means there is zero chance of passing on HIV to a partner, even through condomless sex. Although it generally does not take long for a HIV positive individual to achieve undetectable levels of the virus, it is recommended that they maintain undetectable levels for at least six months before engaging in condomless sex.

For guys living with HIV, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding HIV. Especially when you understand that guys with an undetectable viral load can’t pass HIV on to other guys they have sex with. Although there is no cure for HIV, current treatments are so effective that people living with HIV today can live a long and healthy life.  Plus, we now know they that also are unable to transmit the virus - this is huge!

Although any of these methods are highly effective for preventing HIV transmission, it is important to remember that none of these prevent other STIs. Wearing condoms can protect you and others against some STIs. If you choose to reduce your condom use it is important to get tested regularly!

You may hear guys talking about PrEP or UVL and while these are both highly effective at preventing HIV, it’s important to use the HIV prevention tool that you’re comfortable with. Condoms are readily available at the shops and that might work best for you. But if condoms aren’t always around, thankfully there are newer tools for prevention out there.

If you would like more information about what works to prevent HIV  (Condoms, PrEP, PEP and UVL) check out https://what-works.org.

If you are worried that you may have been exposed to HIV, head to GetPEP.info

If you have recently tested positive for HIV, or even if you have been living with HIV for some time, there are many support networks that can help!  Head over to the Support section of the website and check out what services are in your state.