LIVING WITH HIV? PLAY YOUR PART
If you are living with HIV you have a huge part to play in ending new transmissions. Staying safe, getting on treatment early and encouraging others to do the same are things you can do to end HIV.
NEW TREATMENTS ARE A GAME CHANGER
Treatments these days are far more effective at suppressing the HIV virus than they once were, giving you a good chance of leading a long and healthy life if you are diagnosed positive with HIV.
The main reason to get on treatment is that it greatly increases your life expectancy. Treating early also reduces your chances of developing HIV-related health complications – by more than 50% according to the recent START study.
Getting on treatment for HIV starts with seeing an HIV medical specialist. It’s their job to work up a treatment plan with you – so that you have access to the best care possible.
Is there a reason you are putting off treatment? You might want to check out Not ready to treat?
You can also contact the NZAF if you have any more questions about treatment. There are a number of other great peer support organisations out there too such as The Institute of Many (TIM), +Kiwis, Body Positive, Maori, Indigenous & South Pacific & HIV AIDS Foundation (INA) and Positive Women.
Recent findings from the PARTNER study show that if you are able to get your viral load to undetectable [+U] and keep it there, then the chances of passing on HIV during condomless sex are close to zero.
Many people on treatment are able to obtain an undetectable viral load within 6 months, but not everyone’s viral load goes down that far that quickly. Taking your medication as prescribed will give you the best chance of getting there. Learn more about undetectable viral load [+] here.
GETTING MORE OF US TO TREAT
If everyone living with HIV was on treatment and most of those people were undetectable, the overall risk of HIV transmission would be drastically reduced in our community.
In New Zealand we estimate there are 3,200 people living with HIV, but only around 2,059 people on treatment. This means over 1,000 Kiwis either don’t know their HIV status or do know, but haven’t started treatment.
We need to work together to shift these numbers.
By getting on treatment as early as possible, you are doing the best thing you can for your health and also the health of others. Offering your support to others who are thinking about starting treatment is another way you can help.
STAYING SAFE AND UNDETECTABLE
Condoms still provide the most effective barrier against HIV and many other STIs – they are easy to use and cheap (if not free) and easy to get your hands on.
If you are on treatment and can get your viral load to undetectable, the chances of passing on HIV are radically reduced. Staying safe means regularly monitoring your viral load so any changes are picked up. Find out all about being undetectable here.
Fucking other guys living with HIV? Condoms are still important to protect against other STIs. There is also a small risk of a resistant strain of HIV being passed between two guys who are living with HIV through unprotected anal sex. Find out more about safe sex in a relationship here.