What else might gay guys want to know about HIV?
I think I have HIV, what do I do?
If you’re worried that you’ve been infected with HIV, get tested right away and again in three months, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms. Learn more about getting tested if you’re not sure how. If you might have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, have you heard about PEP? It can help prevent the virus from establishing infection but needs to be started as soon as possible.
If you don’t know a lot about how HIV works today, finding out a guy you hooked up with was HIV positive can be scary, but remember, if he was undetectable, he can’t pass on HIV. If you’re someone who has a lot of anxiety around HIV, getting on PrEP is a great way to relieve that stress.
Can I still have sex if I’m HIV-positive?
Yes! There is still a lot of misunderstanding about HIV, but guys who are living with HIV still enjoy great sex and good health. There are lots of sexual health strategies you or your partners can use like condoms, PrEP, and undetectable viral load to keep yourself and your sex partners healthy. This last one — undetectable viral load — means that your HIV treatment has brought the amount of HIV in the body down to such a low level that you can’t pass on HIV to your partners.
I always thought HIV was a deadly disease. What’s changed?
Lots has changed! We still take HIV seriously, but so much has happened since HIV first appeared. Medicine and society are catching up with the virus that changed everything.
When HIV and AIDS first appeared in the 80s, they were a total mystery. Researchers and doctors scrambled to figure out how the virus was passed between people, and what could be done to treat it. Amidst the panic, we learned about how the virus works, how it could lead to AIDS, how to test for it, and how to treat it. After years of incredible loss and human resilience, effective anti-retroviral therapies (ARTs) emerged in the mid-90’s. These medications stop the virus at multiple steps during its copying process. Scientists have been improving these medicines for 20 years.
Considering everything that’s happened in the world, and to our community as a result of HIV and AIDS, it might be hard to shift your perspective, but things really have changed. It’s definitely not the 80’s or early 90’s anymore.
Do OHIP or other provincial health plans cover HIV treatment?
Every province and territory in Canada has a different way of helping people who need HIV care. In general, these programs will offer coverage for people on social assistance and for seniors. Others will offer some coverage to people with no insurance. Everyone’s situation is unique, and these programs can be tough to understand.
If you’re having a hard time with getting access to your meds, HIV/AIDS Service Organizations and community health centres can help you sort through your options.
CATIE has a great guide about different ways to get the treatment you need and another about the different programs that could help.