“I only sleep with negative guys.” We break down four safe sex myths
Put this scenario in your head: you’ve been successfully chatting to a total 10 out of 10 on Grindr and you’re both DTF right now. So you invite him over and just as you’re about to fuck, you both tell each other you’re HIV negative and decide to do it without a condom in the heat of the moment. You reassure yourself later that it was still safe because he said he’s neg, but how safe was it really?
We unpack four common safe sex myths and give you advice on how to minimise your risk and have great sex below.
Myth 1: Sleeping only with negative guys will keep you negative
In theory, yes, it is impossible to get HIV from a guy who is HIV negative. But just because a guy says he’s negative, how can you know that to be completely true? Here are a few things to consider when a guy says he’s HIV negative:
- He may have had condomless sex since his last test
- When a guy first gets HIV, it may take several weeks for his results to show up positive on an HIV test. This is due to the window period – the period of time straight after contracting HIV during which time there are no signs of HIV antibodies to be picked up by HIV tests. So a guy could have very recently acquired HIV and still show up as negative on a test, but it is at this time that his chances of unintentionally passing on the virus are at their highest
Reality: A guy may think he’s HIV negative when he’s actually newly positive.
What this means for you: Have sex with whoever you want and enjoy it! But be sure to use condoms and/or PrEP even if a guy says he’s negative, as you can never completely know for sure.
Myth 2: If a negative guy has condomless sex with a positive guy, he’s going to get HIV
If a guy is HIV positive, and he is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load, his chance of transmitting the virus to you, even during condomless sex is negligible to non-existent.
Reality: If a guy is HIV positive and undetectable, his chances of passing on the virus, even during condomless sex, are negligible to non-existent.
What this means for you: Always have an open discussion with any sexual partner about status and then use condoms, PrEP or HIV medication if you’re positive, to put your mind at rest before having some great sex!
Myth 3: Condoms will stop you getting HIV if you’re negative
Condoms are a great tool to protect you from HIV and certain STIs, but they can fail at times and break. To reduce the risk of this happening, always use plenty of water-based or silicon lube, make sure your condoms are stored correctly and ensure you know how to put them on properly.
Reality: Condoms are a great HIV and STI prevention tool, and while nothing is perfect, condoms can help give you serious peace of mind.
What this means for you: Always put condoms on correctly and use plenty of lube to reduce the risk of them breaking. More information on how to use condoms correctly can be found on Ending HIV.
Myth 4: You should only get tested for HIV and STIs if you’re showing symptoms
HIV or STIs like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea don’t necessarily have any physical or visible symptoms, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there or that you can’t pass them on.
Reality: HIV and certain STIs don’t always show symptoms.
What this means for you: Depending on how sexually active you are, you should get an HIV and STI test every three to six months, or after any potentially risky sexual encounters. It’s fine to have plenty of great sex, but be sure to get tested regularly and use PrEP, condoms and/or an undetectable viral load to reduce your risk of getting HIV if you’re negative.
Part of this article is based on the PARTNER study.