Blame the ‘80s or blame the scare tactics of older safe sex campaigns, but too many guys still think that choosing not to sleep with HIV positive people is a good prevention strategy. Nowadays, that’s not only outdated thinking, but as a person living with HIV, I’m here to tell you the opposite is true.
The reason behind all that I’ve promised so far, is a little thing called undetectable viral load.
To break it down into simple terms, just remember this: some people in Australia have HIV, and according to the Kirby Institute’s Annual Surveillance Report 2018; 89% of us know we have it, 87% of those people are on treatment, and 95% of those people have a fully suppressed or ‘undetectable’ viral load. Here’s the clincher, when someone’s viral load is ‘undetectable’, there’s no risk of sexual transmission.
So, if you’re looking for love or just to get laid, here are five good reasons why your next partner might be an HIV positive guy.
More guys to choose from
Why limit yourself to only meeting guys who think they’re negative? God knows, the dating pool in the gay world can feel small enough, by ruling out HIV positive guys, you’re just making it smaller.
There are literally thousands of eligible men out there you could be getting down and dirty with right now — why let a thing like HIV get in the way of your next hot session (or true love match, if that’s what you’re looking for)?
It’s safer than most alternatives
If you’re worried about HIV transmission, know this: even during condomless sex, there is no risk if the person with HIV has an undetectable viral load. Boom!
If that’s not clear enough, let’s put it this way, there has never been a single reported case of HIV transmission from a person with a sustained undetectable viral load, even without using condoms or PrEP, in the many global studies researching this over the last five years. Not one case. Ever. Fact.
“…even during condomless sex, there is no risk if the person with HIV has had a continual undetectable viral load for six months or more”
Studies such as the Opposites Attract study, and the Partner Study which recorded close to 60,000 distinct acts of condomless sex between an HIV negative person and an HIV positive partner with a suppressed viral load. Not one person acquired HIV when the viral load was suppressed below 200 copies/mL for a continual six months.
Many guys report acquiring HIV because the condom broke, or because they thought the other guy was negative, as stated in the Seroconversion Study which looks at the experiences of newly diagnosed people. We know, without question, you are at higher risk of acquiring HIV from someone who doesn’t know their status, or thinks they are negative, than only ever fucking HIV positive guys with sustained undetectable viral loads. So what are you waiting for?
If you decide PrEP is not for you
If you’ve considered PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) and decided it’s not for you, worry not — if the only guy you’re sleeping with is HIV positive with a sustained undetectable viral load, there is literally no need for it — that guy cannot transmit HIV because the science shows us using treatment to maintain an undetectable viral load works.
Don’t just take my word for it either. Even the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) make it crystal clear: “…people who take ART [Antiretroviral Therapy] daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.”
Some people are under the false assumption if you start taking PrEP, then you must continue it for the rest of your life. This simply isn’t the case, and especially not if you’re in a monogamous relationship or the only people you’re having sex with are HIV positive and undetectable.
Healthy guys are hot
Say you’re looking to settle down with someone and you’re considering what your future together would look like, in sickness and in health. People living with HIV, on treatment, usually visit their doctor once every six months for a routine check-up.
“…a person diagnosed today with HIV in Australia will have close to the same life expectancy as anyone else”
I could bore you with statistics that say a person diagnosed today with HIV in Australia will have close to the same life expectancy as anyone else, but suffice to say, us poz guys, engaged in healthcare, are probably more in touch with our bodies than most.
Confidence in negotiating sex
Great relationships are built on foundations of trust, openness and negotiation. Every relationship guru, from Oprah to Dan Savage, will advise you to be clear about what you want, to listen to your partner when they tell you what they want, and to keep an open dialogue as the relationship progresses.
If you’ve met a guy who has disclosed his status to you, then you’re already past that first hurdle — the dialogue has started. As an HIV positive man myself, I can attest to how difficult it can be to disclose your status, it can require putting a huge amount of trust in the other person. Use this as a stepping stone to talk about relationship agreements, polyamory, monogamy, safe sex practices, and what you want in and out of the bedroom — a great sex life just became one step closer.
The fact is…
The best prevention method is educating yourself on the many strategies out there, and being able to negotiate safely.
“Don’t put out-dated limits on your sex life.”
This isn’t the 1980s — no one is arguing against the use of condoms, and it shouldn’t have to be a case of either/or. Treatment options as prevention have come along leaps and bounds in recent years. I know what I trust when I’m negotiating safer sex. Don’t put out-dated limits on your sex life. Know the risks, and have open conversations with the guys you’re with about which prevention strategies are right for you.
To learn more about being undetectable check out UVL 101: Undetectable = Safe.