Posted by: anon-i-mouse | 2008/05/29

Hiv Testing

while on the subject of unsafe sex... is there anywhere where Hiv tests are done at little or no expense, discreetly and anonymously ? how often should one be tested?

what is the general opinion out there with regard to disclosing your Hiv status when meeting someone new or just out cruising?

How accurate are SA's Hiv & Aids statistics? is there separate data on the different groups, ie. is HIV on the increase or decrease in the Gay community, is it more prevalent in certain areas or age groups of the hetero sector?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageGay, 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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Our users say:
Posted by: Gareth | 2008/05/30

I stand to be corrected, but I think HIV tests are always very discreet and relatively cheap. you really can go to your doctor in total confidence. These days people "respect" you if you get tested, not frown on you. It is like it was with condoms years ago, when you could only get it at the pharmacy. The Pharmacist would frown on a teenage boy asking to buy condoms. These days, if a teenage boy buys condoms he would go "What a responsible young man, have you met my daughter?" hehehe. Same with HIV tests. you are considered responsible to know your status. I am sure some clinics will also test you for free.
As to how often, that depends on your sex life. If you have multiple partners often, I'd say go at the very least every 3 month. Remember, it only takes one person, and when you sleep with him, you "sleep with all his partners" too. It really depends on you. But at the very least once a year.

On your second question, my personal opinion is that if you are positive, you really should have the decency to disclose your status to a person, at least before you have any sexual contact with them, even if it is just a handjob. At least give the dude the option to decide if he still wants to do this, and if he does, at least he will be aware to be careful too. You know how easy it is to get carried away in the heat of the moment and not think of being safe. There are lives at stake, and I know it must be hell to pluck up the courage to tell someone that you are positive, but at least respect the other guy's life and choice too.

On the third question, and only my opinion too, I'd say no statistic is ever really a 100% accurate, for different reasons. But I don't think HIV has ever been on the decrease, whether in the gay community or not. Unfortunately this evil bug just does not want to seem to be contained. Before a cure is found, I honestly think there won't ever be a real decrease. I only think that as awareness becomes more, infections might happen less often.

Hope this helps. None of these are based on facts, just my opinion and experience

Reply to Gareth

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