Asian men who have sex with men (MSM) have a big part to play in ending HIV. Whether you are local, here for study or living here long term, you need to play safe, test often and start treatment if you are diagnosed with HIV.
HIV is on the rise in New Zealand – an estimated 1 in 15 gay and bisexual men have HIV. While treatments have improved massively, HIV is still a serious long-term health condition. Regularly having sex with casual partners without a condom? The risk of HIV is really high. You need to test every three months. That way you are looking after your own health and that of your partner(s).
A significant proportion of Asian MSM living in New Zealand are younger and may not be staying here permanently. If you are living here permanently, or just here for a short period of time, we want you to stay safe, treat often and treat early.
Getting tested for HIV is where you start. You can get free HIV tests at 20 locations across the country. If you go to another service, like a GP, sexual health clinic or university health service, you may need to pay. If you test positive for HIV, you are able to access treatment and services in New Zealand, regardless of your residency status.
If you aren’t comfortable discussing any of this with your doctor, you can contact the NZAF for confidential advice and free counselling.
Staying safe is for everyone – it doesn’t matter what you are into or how much sex you are having. Condoms provide the most effective barrier against HIV – and they’re easy to access. Still getting used to condoms? Find out everything you ever wanted to know about condoms here.
Are guys asking you for casual sex without a condom? It doesn’t matter how hot he is, if you are fucking without a condom you are putting yourself at risk of HIV. Saying no isn’t always easy. But it’s easier to do before the action starts, rather than once you are fucking. If you want some confidential support or more information about staying safe you can call the NZAF.
Put yourself first, and keep condoms and lube close at hand when you are having anal sex. Find out all about staying safe here.
We need a lot more Asian guys to test for HIV on a regular basis. Test twice a year if you are sexually active, more often if you aren’t staying safe. Regularly having condomless sex with casual partners? You need to test once every 3 months as your risk of HIV is very high.
Don’t want to know if you have HIV? Lots of guys feel this way because they are afraid of rejection from friends or family. There is lots of support available if you do test positive for HIV, and you can also access treatment in New Zealand, even if you are not a resident. Getting on treatment early is the best thing for your health, and significantly increases your chances of living a long and healthy life. Getting tested is free, quick and confidential at NZAF locations. Find out all about testing here.
TREAT AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
Getting on treatment as early as possible is important if you are diagnosed with HIV. Many people living with HIV who are on treatment have a similar life expectancy to those who don't have the virus.
New evidence from the START study shows that getting on treatment early is the best thing for your health. It stops the virus in its tracks and reduces the amount of damage to your immune system. The study also found that the risk of HIV related health complications is reduced by 50%. Many people who start treatment early are able to obtain an undetectable viral load within 6 months of starting treatment. Reaching and maintaining an undetectable viral load means the risk of passing on HIV during unprotected sex is close to zero.
GETTING MORE OF US TO TREAT
It is estimated that there are over 1,000 people living with HIV in New Zealand who aren’t on treatment. Some of these will be Asian MSM.
If you test positive for HIV, getting onto treatment is the best thing you can do for your health. In New Zealand, you have the right to access treatment for HIV, no matter how long you have been resident for, or whether or not you plan to stay here long term.
If you are an Asian gay or bi guy who has tested positive for HIV you can lead the way by getting on treatment as soon as you can. It will be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Encourage your friends to do the same.