Gay, bisexual and queer men, as a population, carry a heavy burden of both HIV and STIs in Australia. This means, as trans guys who are part of this community, we are at a higher risk of being exposed to an HIV or STI. It’s a good idea to stay in the loop on what the risks are so you can make informed choices about how you want to look after your sexual health.
Many of us grow up thinking that ‘safe sex’ means not getting pregnant and for some trans guys, even those of us on testosterone (T), this is a risk to be aware of. While T does significantly reduce the risk of pregnancy it should not be relied on as 100% effective for birth control.
Safe sex is getting educated about sex and sexual health, testing regularly so you know your HIV and STI status, taking necessary precautions to protect your sexual health with the tools available and learning and using communication and negotiation skills with your sexual partners.
So it’s more than safe sex, it’s about smart sex.
Let’s unzip it a little…
There are a range of tools you can use to protect your sexual health. Condoms, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), TasP (Treatment as Prevention) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) are the four main ways to stay HIV negative.
Condoms are best used with water based lube for maximum protection. PrEP is the new kid on the block and is a daily pill taken by HIV negative people to prevent HIV infection. TasP is about people living with HIV having access to anti-retroviral treatments and maintaining an undetectable viral load (when the amount of virus is too low for current blood tests to measure), because if someone is undetectable it’s really unlikely that HIV transmission will occur. If you had a fuck where there is a high risk of being exposed to HIV, act quickly and get PEP. If taken ASAP (within 72 hours maximum, but the sooner the better) it is highly effective at stopping the virus from taking hold.