Positive Life NSW Blog

'He was so fucking hot, he didn't look like he had HIV!'

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Image credit: Tumblr @scruffyjizzmonkey.tumblr.com

Hot sessions are part of any good sex life but sometimes they can put us at risk. But you can take control of what happens next, writes David Crawford.

Stories of HIV exposure have common threads. Recently I met Tyler*, a young man in his early 20’s struggling with a HIV diagnosis from a month ago. After his long term relationship had ended to relieve some of the emotional sting, he started going out drinking and “fucking around.” He met Brandon* a guy in his late 20’s. After a few hook-ups, they started seeing each other more regularly and always used condoms. One night after Brandon had cum and pulled out, they realised the condom had broken. They talked. Brandon’s most recent test of six months ago was negative. Tyler knew his own most recent result was negative and this was his first significant risk since re-entering the meat market. Based on these discussions, they decided to keep on having sex without a condom.

A few months later Tyler got sick with severe flu like symptoms, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting so bad, he said “I thought I was going to die.” “This was my HIV sero-conversion illness,” he said. “I was surprised as I didn’t think he looked like he had HIV, he was so fucking hot!” Before our meeting, Tyler had already done a lot of reading, so we explored his future plans, especially how he would weave in being HIV positive into his life and taking medications. By the end of our chat, I could see he left feeling much more confident about starting HIV treatments within the next few days.

If we can wind the clock back and go to that moment between Tyler and Brandon where they realised the condom broke “Fuck man, the condom’s broken!” Tyler calls the number in his wallet for the NSW PEP Hotline. PEP stands for post exposure prophylaxis. The support guy at the Hotline talks with each of them on Brandon’s mobile. Brandon discloses that since his most recent HIV test six months ago, he had a couple of situations where there was possibly a significant risk for HIV. Not until this call, he didn’t realise that ‘nudging’, i.e., someone fucking his arse and pulling out before dumping his load, is a risk for HIV. Given Brandon had blown his seed in Tyler and the condom had broken, the Hotline worker advises Tyler to go to his local hospital Emergency Department (ED) or a sexual health clinic as soon as possible and no later than 72 hours after the risk, to ask for an assessment to get started on PEP. This is HIV medication taken for 28 days after exposure to HIV to prevent him becoming HIV positive.

To be on the safe side, Brandon is advised to go to his doctor or sexual health clinic to have an HIV test. While Brandon tests positive for HIV, he was commenced on treatment immediately and referred to supportive peers to explore his options for him to work through the shock of his diagnosis. Unlike Tyler, Brandon had not experienced any symptoms of an illness that might have indicated he was seroconverting to HIV. Brandon will find an amazing supportive network and community to help him work through the challenges of his diagnosis, that treatments are easy to take and that the future looks pretty good from here.

Recently, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has taken a front seat in the HIV prevention conversation Occasionally I hear, ‘if only PrEP had been around my friend/I would not have become HIV positive.’ Let’s not forget that PEP has been around for a long time and is known to work effectively in preventing HIV particularly when started as soon as possible and no later than within 72 hours of the possible exposure. In the most recent Gay Community Periodic Survey Sydney 2013 just under 40% of those surveyed had no knowledge of PEP, with some confusion between PEP, freely available here, and post exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) where there is limited access to PrEP in NSW at the moment and it is not always the right option. For Tyler, PEP is a very effective alternative until PrEP becomes widely available.

Sometimes when we have engaged in something that has put us at risk, we sometimes have to overcome the shame of choosing a hot raw fuck over safer sex. It might have been anonymous, a hot fuck in a sex club, in the sack at his place or your own. If there is one thing we are really aware is our fallibility and that a hot fuck is part of life. It’s important to be proud (and not fearful) of our sex lives, enjoying a hot fuck and to take control and end HIV in the NSW gay community.

NSW PEP HOTLINE Ph: 1800 737 669 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
http://thealbioncentre.org.au/helplines-hotlines/pep-hotline/

*Not his real name.

Image credit: Tumblr @scruffyjizzmonkey.tumblr.com

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