2015 saw the highest number of new HIV infections on record in New Zealand. Now more than ever we need to keep each other safe from HIV. If you are sexually adventurous then you have a big part to play in ending HIV in New Zealand.
Whatever you are into we want you to be having great, safe sex. Condoms provide the most effective barrier against HIV and many other STIs. They’re cheap, readily available and do a good job of keeping you safe.
PreP is a daily pill that provides protection from HIV and is an option for those who struggle with condoms. PrEP is not yet easy to access in New Zealand but work is going on behind the scenes to change this. Find out more about PrEP here.
Fucking with someone who is undetectable will significantly reduce your risk of HIV, but remember, someone's viral load can go up and down even if they are on treatment. Unless you know a person well, its hard to know for sure what their HIV status is, or whether they are undetectable. Until you know someone really well, its safest to use protection when you are having sex.
There are a number of situations where you are more likely to not stay safe – that doesn’t mean you won’t – it just means you need to get yourself sorted before the action starts.
Be prepared – it can be difficult to negotiate or maintain condom use during chemsex, particularly if you are fucking multiple partners. Make sure you have a good supply of condoms and lube on hand before the action starts.
To make sure you have the hottest, safest time when you are partying keep these things in mind:
- Consent is an ongoing process – it can be withdrawn at any time. Get clear on boundaries before you start to fuck and keep talking. You need to feel okay at all times about what is going on.
- Sex on crystal* can go on for a long time. Paranoia and hallucinations are not uncommon on the second day. They can be frightening. If you feel unsafe at any time you have the option of going to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at your nearest public hospital.
- Smoking crystal meth*? Smoking crystal can lead to bleeding gums and mouth sores, which increases the risk of HIV being passed on during oral sex. You need to keep an eye on your oral hygiene if you are smoking meth.
- If you inject crystal, do not share needles, or other injecting equipment. You can get hold of clean, free needles from the New Zealand Needle Exchange.
- You may end up fucking for a long time during chemsex – this can damage you and your partner’s ass and increase your risk of HIV transmission.
*These drugs are illegal and crystal can easily become addictive. If you use them there is a risk of addiction.
If you have had sex without a condom and think that may have put you at risk of HIV, you should consider going on PEP. You need to do this as soon as possible after the event. Find out more about PEP here.
BDSM AND KINK
If BDSM and kink are your bag then you’ll be no stranger to setting boundaries. Keeping everyone safe starts with consent, using safe words and signals to make sure limits are clear.
Anal sex is a big feature for many people who like to kink it up, so having condoms and lube on hand is crucial for keeping everyone safe – they still provide the best barrier against HIV and a number of other STIs.
If you are hooking up casually it’s really hard to know for sure what a person's HIV status is, or if they're undetectable. Even if they tell you they're negative, or undetectable, it is best not to take the risk of fucking without a condom.
KNOW YOUR FUCKING RISK
Anal sex without a condom is the riskiest sex act when it comes to HIV transmission – that’s because HIV can be present in cum and pre-cum and the lining of the ass is really good at absorbing the virus.
Oral sex carries a low risk of HIV transmission as saliva provides a natural barrier against the virus. There is a risk of transmission during oral sex if an open and bleeding sore comes into contact with semen containing HIV. You can’t get HIV from kissing someone, masturbating together, giving or receiving a hand job.
You might also draw blood during sex, especially if your sex involves whipping, piercing, tattooing or cutting. To stay safe in these scenarios, make sure that any toys that may have blood on them are not shared, or if they are shared, they are properly sterilised between users.
Branding carries no risk of HIV transmission as long as the wound is properly cauterised.
Fisting or handballing has no risk of HIV transmission, although it requires you and your partner to be very relaxed without being deadened to any sense of pain. Fisting can damage the ass if it’s hard, fast or goes on for long periods of time.
Shit play or scat, also known as scatophilia, carries no risk of HIV, but other things can be passed on including Hepatitis A and intestinal parasites. If there are breaks in the skin, try to avoid playing near these, as this increases the chances of infection.
Into golden showers, water sports or urination during sex? HIV cannot be transmitted through urine, but other things can if urine enters the mouth, anus or comes in to contact with broken skin.
Sharing your toys? Make sure you use a new condom with each partner and wash them thoroughly with soap or disinfectant before and after each use.
THE MORE YOU FUCK WITHOUT A CONDOM THE MORE YOU NEED TO TEST
If you are sexually active you need to test for HIV twice a year. Make testing for HIV part of a regular check-up for STIs. Regularly fucking casual partners without condoms? Your risk of HIV is really high - you need to test every 3 months.
PrEP (PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS)
If keeping the rubbers on is a struggle, you may want to consider going on PrEP. PrEP is a pill taken once a day by negative guys that radically reduces the chances that you’ll get HIV. Find out more about PrEP here.
TREAT AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
Many people on treatment for HIV have full and healthy lives. Treatments these days are very effective at suppressing the virus and significantly increase life expectancy. There’s now solid evidence from the START study that getting on treatment early decreases the chances of developing conditions such as liver disease or cancer by more than 50%. Many people who start treatment early are able to achieve an undetectable viral load within 6 months of starting treatment. If you are able to maintain an undetectable viral load, the risk of passing on HIV during sex without a condom is almost zero.
GETTING MORE OF US TO TREAT
In New Zealand we estimate there are 3,200 people living with HIV but only around 2,059 on treatment. This means there are over 1,000 people living with HIV in New Zealand who haven’t started treatment.
If you are sexually adventurous you have major role to play in shifting these numbers by staying safe and testing often. If you are diagnosed positive, then access treatment as early as possible. Encourage your friends and partner(s) to do the same.