We've all heard the myths! If you're gay men you're bound to become HIV-positive. Right? Wrong! Just because you are gay does not mean you will become HIV-positive. But it is true that the virus does affect gay men more than the general population. In the UK today the vast majority of transmissions come from men who don't know they have the virus. Hence why testing is so important. In 2019, it was estimated that there are 105,200 people living with HIV in the UK.
- 94% of these people are diagnosed, and therefore know that they have HIV. This means that around 1 in 16 people living with HIV in the UK do not know that they have the virus.
- 98% of people diagnosed with HIV in the UK are on treatment, and 97% of those on treatment are virally suppressed which means they cannot pass the virus on. Of all the people living with HIV in the UK, 89% are virally suppressed.
- There is still a great deal of stigma about HIV. Stigma is damaging as it prevents people from getting tested, from accessing treatment and from living a happy and healthy life.
- The most common way HIV is transmitted is through sex without a condom.
- You cannot get HIV through casual or day-to-day contact, or kissing, spitting or sharing a cup, plate or toilet seat.
If you are an HIV-negative gay man living in a modern world you should know that there's more to HIV prevention. So here at LGBT HERO we have a list of all the ways you can prevent HIV.
All sexually active gay men should test for STIs at least once a year. If you are having sex with new partners then you should test more frequently. Test for HIV too when you’re there. It takes about two weeks for most STIs and four weeks for HIV to show up in a test.
If you are diagnosed with HIV you will be put on treatment that will contain the virus in the body. Within a few short months the virus should become undetectable, meaning that it’s very unlikely that the virus will be passed on to sexual partners. However using condoms will further reduce the risk of passing on HIV and STIs.
PrEP means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and it’s the use of anti-HIV medication to keep HIV-negative people from becoming infected. PrEP has been shown to be safe and effective. A single pill taken once daily, it is highly effective against HIV. The medication interferes with HIV’s ability to copy itself in your body after you’ve been exposed. This prevents it from establishing an infection and stops you becoming HIV-positive.
What are the symptoms of HIV & AIDS?
It can be years before symptoms of HIV make you feel sick, so many people may not know that they have it. That’s why routine HIV testing is so important.
At first, you might feel achy, feverish, or like you have the flu. These symptoms are your body’s first reaction to the HIV infection. Common early symptoms include:
Swollen Lymph Nodes
During this time, there’s a lot of the virus in your system, so it’s really easy to spread HIV to other people. The symptoms only last for a few weeks, and then you usually don’t have symptoms again for years. But HIV can be spread to other people — whether or not you have symptoms or feel sick.
While any one of these symptoms can be the first sign of HIV infection, they can also be signals of other health issues. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and make sure to get an HIV test so that you can get the care you need.