HIV RISK BASICS
HIV can only be passed on in a handful of ways including unprotected sex, sharing needles, breastfeeding and/or direct blood to blood contact with a person who is living with HIV.
You can’t get HIV if you hug or kiss someone, share cups, utensils or food. Bodily fluids such as sweat, urine and saliva have not been shown to transmit HIV.
Most people are aware that unprotected anal sex is at the top of the scale when it comes to HIV risk – but risk isn’t just about the sex act itself. It’s also to do with the degrees of separation between people who have sex with each other. In Auckland an estimated 1 in 15 gay and bi men are living with HIV.
HIV RISK FOR GUYS WHO HAVE SEX WITH GUYS
Unprotected anal sex (which includes the absence of condoms, PrEP or UVL) comes with a very high risk of HIV. Other STIs are also a risk when there’s no condom involved. The risk of HIV is slightly higher for the receptive partner, but it's still high if you are on top.
Oral sex carries a low risk of HIV transmission as saliva provides a natural barrier against the virus. There is, however, a very low risk of transmission during oral sex if an open and bleeding sore comes into contact with semen containing a high load of HIV. You can’t get HIV from kissing someone, masturbating together or a hand job.
Still have questions about risk? Contact us.
NOT SO RISKY?
Most of us are aware that unprotected anal sex is at the top of the scale when it comes to HIV risk. But there are different ways of fucking – are some of these more or less risky?
- Pulling out before you cum – this does lower the risk of HIV transmission but only by a small amount. HIV is present in pre-cum and secretions from the anus and penis. Small tears in either of these (that you won’t be able to see) are enough for HIV to be passed on.
- Negative person as the insertive partner with someone living with HIV as receptive partner (also known as strategic positioning) – while the risk of HIV is slightly lower for the insertive partner, the risk of HIV transmission is still high. This is not a good strategy for staying safe.
- Not wearing a condom when someone says they are HIV negative – unless you know someone well, you are taking a significant risk fucking without a condom. We estimate 1 in 5 gay and bi identified guys living with HIV don't know it. Much as we wish it weren't the case, trusting someone is not a good strategy for staying safe, particularly for casual hook-ups. Things getting serious? Taking off the condoms is a process, find out more about safe sex in a relationship here.
- Not wearing a condom when they say they are undetectable – unless you know someone really well, and they are happy to be transparent with you about their viral load testing, condoms need to stay on cocks, especially during casual hook ups. Having said that, people living with HIV who have maintained an undetectable viral load for six months or more do not pass on HIV through condomless sex.
THREE REASONS WHY GUYS WHO HAVE SEX WITH GUYS ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET HIV
Anal sex between two guys is the most common way for HIV to be passed on in New Zealand – here are three reasons why:
- It’s much easier to get HIV from anal sex – in fact, 18 times more likely than for vaginal sex. This is because the cells in the ass are much more susceptible to HIV, and there can be lots of HIV in cum, pre-cum and rectal mucosa. When these fluids come into contact they create a very effective pathway for HIV to be passed on.
- There are already a lot of gay and bi guys in New Zealand who are living with HIV – a recent study suggests up to 1 in 15. The same study found that 1 in 5 gay and bi guys in Auckland who are living with HIV don’t know it. So, it’s quite possible for you to hook up with someone who says they are HIV negative, when in fact they just haven’t tested.
- We’re more closely connected than you might think – there are less gay and bi guys than there are straight men and women in our community. That means if you are a guy into sex with other guys, you are far more likely to hook up with someone who is living with HIV, than if you were straight.