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Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 6:53 am 
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Good morning boys and girls. I've noticed around the forum that an alarmingly high number of you have got various facts twisted and wrong over HIV, particularly amongst our younger members. Seeing as some of you have in all likelihood had insufficient sex ed, here is a sex ed class for you. Having had a friend who had a near miss with HIV and his research into it, I'm going to just give you all what the SCIENTIFIC viewpoint is on HIV at the moment. Obviously there is a large amount of fear and controversy surrounding HIV, but the more you know about it, the better you'll be able to avoid it.

Why are you telling us this?
HIV is on the rise worldwide. In the western world, a large proportion of new cases are in gay men. The National Health Service in the UK reckons that 1 in 8 gay men in Brighton are HIV positive, and 1 in 10 in London. These are shockingly high percentages, although the NHS does work on that only 3% of the population are Men who have sex with Men. The Centres for Disease Control in the USA reckon that up to 20% of gay men in San Francisco are HIV positive, they have had even higher estimates in the past as well.
These are sobering statistics so pay attention.

How do you catch HIV?
HIV is transmitted primarily by:
- Unprotected Anal sex
- Unprotected Vaginal sex
- sharing needles EDIT (prompted by Geometrix)
Quote:
I'd also stress being extremely careful with needle use!
I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but right now in Toronto, Canada there's been a spike in people between ages 14 - 25 using needles for drug use, and unfortunately sharing.

EDIT (prompted by Davey): - Blood and sexual fluids through open wounds, this is mainly relevant to medical professionals and is one of the reasons that gloves must be worn by medical staff.

Can I catch HIV from unprotected oral?
This is a subject of huge scientific debate. There have been many studies done over the years. There are two types of data: the behaviour reported by patients and data collected from a study. Patient sourced data is notoriously unreliable. This is because people either lie, can't remember (alcohol and drugs) or are in denial. The CDC in the USA did a study using patient sourced data and concluded that 8% of new infections were due to unprotected oral. This study has been largely discounted because it is believed to be wildly inaccurate and is now getting quite old. Since then, there have been several studies involving scientists monitoring serodiscordant couples (where one is positive, and one is negative). Condoms were used for anal and vaginal sex, but not for oral sex. One of these ran for over 10 years and included 19,000 acts of oral sex. There was not a single transmission in any of the studies.
So, in short, we believe that there is only a theoretical risk from being sucked, and a low risk from sucking someone. It is good practice though not to allow ejaculation in the mouth. This is not to say it's impossible to catch HIV from Oral Sex, but it is improbable. However, whilst you are unlikely to catch HIV from oral sex, you can catch most other STDs very easily from oral sex, so protection should always be considered, even with oral sex.

How can I protect myself?
Use condoms, it's pretty obvious really. Condoms prevent transmission of HIV effectively. Make sure you use plenty of lube for anal sex, and don't double bag condoms, this will only cause friction making them more likely to break. Also, everyone should get tested once a year, regardless of having protected sex or not. Those who have unprotected sex should test more regularly.

Can I catch HIV from a surface/kissing/etc?

No. HIV is very vulnerable to changes in temperature and PH. Essentially, once it's left the body, it will not be able to reproduce because it will have been damaged. Only body to body will generally allow transfer. HIV is actually quite hard to catch.

Help! I had unprotected sex with someone who is known to be positive/I've been raped/any other scenario.
The following MUST be done within 72 hours of the event, and preferably ASAP. Go to the emergency department at your hospital IMMEDIATELY. They might give you a medication called PEP which if taken properly will reduce your chance of becoming positive. PEP is essentially HIV medication, and will probably make you suffer some pretty horrendous side effects like vomiting etc, but it will be worth it. PEP is not suitable for all cases, so it's up to the duty doctor to decide. In countries with a health system (UK, Canada, most of Europe) it will be free.

So what are the stages of HIV infection, and what's AIDS?
There are two stages of HIV infection:
- initial infection/Seroconversion
- Late stage/AIDS
Seroconversion will occur approximately 4-6 weeks after the infection, with the average time to seroconversion being only 22 days. Symptoms may or may not occur, but when they do occur they are very similar to mono/glandular fever. They include: flu, fever, rash, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. There are many symptoms for HIV, which may or may not occur, and the presence of these symptoms does not mean much since they occur in many many other conditions.
AIDS is when your immune system has collapsed. Your T cells number under 200. This leaves you open to many opportunistic infections, like pneumonia.

So when can I test?
Testing at 6 weeks after an exposure gives you a pretty high accuracy rate, but it cannot be considered conclusive. All tests MUST be repeated at three months after an exposure to confirm the result. However, someone who tests negative at six weeks, is highly unlikely to become positive at three months. You should also get a whole panel of STD tests done, since the others are far more infectious than HIV.

Is HIV a death sentence?
If diagnosed as early as possible, absolutely not. Medical professionals in all likelihood will be able to help you live a 'relatively' normal life. However, if only diagnosed at the AIDS stage, the prospects are not so good. HIV medication is now very good, and can help the immune system to recover.

Any other tips?
Although not HIV, Hepatitis B is 100X more infectious than HIV and can permanently damage your liver. Certain countries, like the UK, offer free Hep A/B vaccinations to men who have sex with men because we are considered an 'at risk' category. See your Dr for more information. EDIT (prompted by Ryan101), since vaccinations are available for Hep A & B, it is very sensible to actually get vaccinated. We can't vaccinate HIV, but we can vaccinate Hep A & B, so it's worthwhile.
EDIT (prompted by Davey): There are also many other STDs, far more infectious than HIV which can also cause severe problems. This is why you should carry out a full STD screen, rather than just screening for HIV. Also, if your body's immune system is weak due to the presence of another STD, like Syphilis, then you may be at more risk of contracting HIV, as HIV may be able to 'piggy back' the Syphilis into the body.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'll try to answer them as accurately as I can, otherwise I will point you at the appropriate organisations.
I know this is a mammoth essay, but follow this information and you'll probably remain negative.
Safe sex, ALWAYS! Even in a relationship you should keep practising safe sex until you have both attended testing, and been tested negative TOGETHER. Simply asking someone if they're negative offers no proof into whether they actually are.

Some of the organisations where this data came from: WHO, UN, US CDC, NHS, POZ, Terrence Higgins Trust.

Last edited by mattyengland on 21st June, 2013, 11:58 am, edited 6 times in total.

1 from Vortex


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 7:55 am 
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This was a good idea. Thanks for educating us Matty :english:


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 8:23 am 
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I'd also stress being extremely careful with needle use!
I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but right now in Toronto, Canada there's been a spike in people between ages 14 - 25 using needles for drug use, and unfortunately sharing.

There's no excuse to share needles with someone. In most places in the world, sterile injection kits are given out at health centers or by harm reduction organizations.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 11:29 am 
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When life gives you lemons, make lemonAIDS.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 11:45 am 
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horace slughorn wrote:
When life gives you lemons, make lemonAIDS.

Using MSM per population of 3%: approx 20% of gay men in Toronto have HIV.
Using MSM per population of 10%: approx 7% of gay men in Toronto have HIV.

Not exactly a topic to take lightly.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 11:47 am 
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AIDS is actually one of the only things that terrifies me about being gay :(


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 11:54 am 
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lewisuk wrote:
AIDS is actually one of the only things that terrifies me about being gay :(


Ditto. Although if you don't have sex you can't catch it, so at the moment I'm not that concerned. :P

But yes, its a serious issue, and I agree some people don't take it seriously enough.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 3:45 pm 
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mattyengland wrote:
horace slughorn wrote:
When life gives you lemons, make lemonAIDS.

Using MSM per population of 3%: approx 20% of gay men in Toronto have HIV.
Using MSM per population of 10%: approx 7% of gay men in Toronto have HIV.

Not exactly a topic to take lightly.


Ya it's a fucking myth that gays have higher rates of HIV than straights. So maybe you could stop spreading that stereotype and trying to scare people?

edit: i also find some of your statistics highly suspect, especially in the opening paragraphs. care to provide a direct source for that info?


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:00 pm 
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horace slughorn wrote:
mattyengland wrote:
horace slughorn wrote:
When life gives you lemons, make lemonAIDS.

Using MSM per population of 3%: approx 20% of gay men in Toronto have HIV.
Using MSM per population of 10%: approx 7% of gay men in Toronto have HIV.

Not exactly a topic to take lightly.


Ya it's a fucking myth that gays have higher rates of HIV than straights. So maybe you could stop spreading that stereotype and trying to scare people?

edit: i also find some of your statistics highly suspect, especially in the opening paragraphs. care to provide a direct source for that info?

CDC.gov wrote:
Gay and bisexual men — referred to in CDC surveillance systems as men who have sex with men (MSM)1 — of all races continue to be the risk group most severely affected by HIV. Additionally, this is the only risk group in the U.S. in which the annual number of new HIV infections is increasing. There is an urgent need to expand access to proven HIV prevention interventions for gay and bisexual men, as well as to develop new approaches to fight HIV in this population.

Source: CDC (2010)


But I guess they're just being homophobic...


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:06 pm 
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horace slughorn wrote:
mattyengland wrote:
horace slughorn wrote:
When life gives you lemons, make lemonAIDS.

Using MSM per population of 3%: approx 20% of gay men in Toronto have HIV.
Using MSM per population of 10%: approx 7% of gay men in Toronto have HIV.

Not exactly a topic to take lightly.


Ya it's a fucking myth that gays have higher rates of HIV than straights. So maybe you could stop spreading that stereotype and trying to scare people?

edit: i also find some of your statistics highly suspect, especially in the opening paragraphs. care to provide a direct source for that info?


No it's not a 'fucking myth', and if you want to keep believing that, that's your problem. There is no point hiding behind false pretences. The gay community has done a lot to bring infection rates down, but they are still too high. Although you are correct that per population, there are more straight infections than gay, but there are far more people in the general population than the gay population. The gay population is, per person, at a far greater risk.

Some of the sources, I will go and find my originals and keep adding to the list:
http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1287145264558
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13578283
http://www.tht.org.uk/informationresources/hivandaids/howcommonishiv/
http://www.tht.org.uk/informationresources/factsandstatistics/uk/
http://www.aidsmap.com/London-Brighton-Manchester-many-gay-men-with-undiagnosed-HIV-and-high-levels-of-risky-sex/page/1427156/
http://www.actoronto.org/home.nsf/pages/hivaidsstatsto


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:06 pm 
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even if gays have higher rates, when information is presented about aids it's always framed as a specifically gay disease. its a way of pathologizing being gay, giving it a constant association with illness.

every sexual diversity program that i encounter at university or in the community inevitably has a "safe sex" portion of the program. i would just like it if disease could be separated out from the sexuality rather than always presented as inextricably bound


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:09 pm 
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I don't believe these 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 numbers without any proof, could you present some? I do believe that gay men have a higher risk of catching it though.

EDIT: Nevermind, postings above hadn't been made when I wrote this, gotta check those.

Last edited by xyz72 on 30th June, 2011, 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:11 pm 
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horace slughorn wrote:
even if gays have higher rates, when information is presented about aids it's always framed as a specifically gay disease. its a way of pathologizing being gay, giving it a constant association with illness.

every sexual diversity program that i encounter at university or in the community inevitably has a "safe sex" portion of the program. i would just like it if disease could be separated out from the sexuality rather than always presented as inextricably bound


You're now arguing a completely different argument. You've gone from "gays are at the same risks as straights", to "sex education refers to gays as the only ones affected". Your second argument has far more merit than your first one. It is a problem, HIV suffers such amounts of stigma that it's always going to be difficult. From the sex education I have seen in the UK, sexuality is never mentioned. The same ways to keep safe apply irrelevant of risk.
It is important to seperate sexuality from the education portion, but since we are in a gay forum, and gays are a 'high risk category', then it would be irresponsible not to provide suitable knowledge to those without it.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:12 pm 
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xyz72 wrote:
I don't believe these 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 numbers without any proof, could you present some? I do believe that gay men have a higher risk of catching it though.


yes and 1 in 5 in san francisco ...


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:13 pm 
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xyz72 wrote:
I don't believe these 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 numbers without any proof, could you present some? I do believe that gay men have a higher risk of catching it though.

I've done that, check through the links a couple of posts up. I know, they are astounding numbers. I was shocked when I first saw them. As I said though, they work on the assumption that MSM accounts for 3% of the population, when I think it's probably at least double that. These results were created by the UK Health Protection Agency, so they are legitimate sources.
You can use the information I got from Toronto, pair that with the population of Toronto and MSM rates and you will achieve similar results.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:16 pm 
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horace slughorn wrote:
even if gays have higher rates, when information is presented about aids it's always framed as a specifically gay disease. its a way of pathologizing being gay, giving it a constant association with illness.

every sexual diversity program that i encounter at university or in the community inevitably has a "safe sex" portion of the program. i would just like it if disease could be separated out from the sexuality rather than always presented as inextricably bound

The way to combat stigma based on HIV risk is not to pretend that the health risk is nonexistent, but to have others recognize the non-sequitur nature of their inferences.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:19 pm 
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lewisuk wrote:
AIDS is actually one of the only things that terrifies me about being gay :(


all im saying is that this kind of reaction here is very typical, and for me also very sad and misguided


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:24 pm 
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horace slughorn wrote:
lewisuk wrote:
AIDS is actually one of the only things that terrifies me about being gay :(


all im saying is that this kind of reaction here is very typical, and for me also very sad and misguided


There is nothing for people to worry about, as long as they are sufficiently educated about how to protect themselves. Denial, like what happened in South Africa for years, will only accelerate the spread. Accepting that it is a problem, and learning how to protect yourself will keep you safe. Protecting yourself is not misguided, it's just being sensible.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:25 pm 
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horace slughorn wrote:
lewisuk wrote:
AIDS is actually one of the only things that terrifies me about being gay :(


all im saying is that this kind of reaction here is very typical, and for me also very sad and misguided

While it's silly to paralyze oneself because a risk exists, it is equally silly and foolhardy (if not more so) to deny that an actual medical risk exists simply because you perceive it as stigmatizing.


  
 
Unread postPosted: 30th June, 2011, 4:25 pm 
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"The men were recruited in bars, clubs and saunas." - I stopped reading there.

So...completely useless study that got the 1 in 8 number for Brighton. If you only ask men that go to such venues - and I am assuming it aren't just any clubs, bars and saunas but the ones visits to usually end with sex - you are obviously gonna get a higher percentage of HIV-positive men than by just taking random gay men. So once again it's just as much or more of a "sluts are positive" than "fags are positive".


  
 
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