Our expert says:
Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert
Hello Anon-I-Mouse and thanks for the post - we particularly welcome HIV-related posts.
There are hardly any reliable data on the prevalence of HIV in the gay sector in South Africa - remember that all official Health Department data regarding this issue are gleaned from pregnant women attending ante-natal clinics. Such data may have relevance on HIV prevalence rates among straight men but they are irrelevant to gay men. Current estimates of infection among gay men range between 30 - 40%, with wide disparity between different sub-groups and geographical areas. For example, we can obviously anticipate that infection rates among guys doing bareback sex in steam baths and sex venues will be much higher than among monogamous gay couples. The highest prevalence rate I've heard of is 70% and a paper is likely to be published on this research process in due course.
Tests are available in countless venues, depending what city or town you're in. All testing should be discreet and you can use a fake name if you want to. Obviously going to your private GP could be a bit more costly than going to a gay organisation or a community clinic.
How often to test? The main thing is to BE tested initially, and then to retest according to how much risk you decide to expose yourself to. Many people suggest that you undergo testing every six months but I think this is dependent on your lifestyle and sexual behaviour.
When to disclose your HIV-positive status to a potential partner is often very hotly debated. The main point, I suppose, is that you NEVER place your partner at risk of infection but I know for a fact that many guys who are positive continue to engage in bareback sex. Click above, on the forum articles, and read an article entitled "Wake up, we're caught in denial".
Thanks for an interesting post and let's hear from you more frequently.
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