What else might gay guys want to know about sex and HIV transmission?
What about other sexually transmitted infections besides HIV, like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or herpes?
How can I have the sex that I want if there are so many ways to transmit HIV and other STIs?
It depends on the sex you want. Some kinds of sex are really important to some guys, and less so to others. We all deserve to have the sex we want, and there are lots of sexual health strategies guys can use and combine to stay healthy such as PrEP, PEP and undetectable viral load, which can be used to allow you to have anal sex without anxiety about HIV, and condoms which can be used and combined with other strategies to stop HIV and STIs from getting passed on.
It’s always a good idea to know what your options are and how you plan to use them with your hookups or dates. Check out our looking out for yourself section to sort out what that might look like for you.
It’s important to remember that STIs are an infection, like any other bacterial or viral infection. When you get an STI, you go to the doctor, and treat or control it the way you would any other illness.
STIs and HIV need to be taken seriously, but they don’t need to be shameful. If you’re feeling ashamed or anxious to talk about sexual health or to go get tested, you could be leaving an STI untreated for longer, and it can cause other health problems.
If you’re having sex, even if you always use condoms, you might get an STI at some point. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Getting tested regularly and keeping our partners informed about our health is part of the responsibility we take on when we have sex.
If you’re HIV positive, remember that maintaining an undetectable viral load stops you from being able to pass HIV on to others, and using condoms reduces your chances of getting or passing on STIs. Getting regular STI testing — including swabs — with your HIV-related bloodwork and keeping your partners informed is also an important part of your sexual heal practices. Learn more about your sex life with HIV. If you’re having trouble accessing HIV care, there is guidance on where to get it, and there are local and culturally specific support options available.
What kinds of things can I do that have no chance of HIV transmission?
As long as a bodily fluid isn’t coming into contact with a mucous membrane like those in the ass, mouth, vagina, foreskin, or pee-hole, there isn’t a possibility of HIV transmission. HIV also doesn’t survive long outside of the body or in the open air. Jerking off together, kissing and making out, stripteasing, dry humping, rubbing cocks together, and anything else without penetration, or fluids otherwise entering the body, have no chance of HIV transmission as long as there are no open sores.
Rimming and fingering also have really low chances of transmitting HIV as long as there are no open sores. Using toys like butt plugs or dildos on yourself has no chance of HIV or STI transmission. If you do share toys, or use fingers on more than one person, covering them with a condom or other barrier for each new hole also has no chance of transmission.
There’s also lots of things guys find sexy that are more mental than physical. Roleplaying, exhibitionism, voyeurism, dressing up, bondage, leather and rubber, and all sorts of other kinks don’t always involve activities with bodily fluids, though they may include that, too. For rougher play that may include breaking the skin, remember that blood can transmit HIV.
Not all of these things are free of the possibility of STI transmission. Some STIs are transmitted when infected skin touches on somebody else’s skin, like syphilis, or mpox. Others can be prevented by using a condom to prevent fluids from transmitting infections. In some cases, if a guy has an STI, it can also increases the chance of HIV transmission. Read up on STIs to learn more about how to protect yourself, and get tested for STIs often.
The more important question is, what sex do you want to have? All the activities listed above are fun, hot, sexy things to get up to with your partners, and your boundaries are yours to decide, but this website exists to teach you how to have the sex you want, with the best information available to you. If anal and oral sex are what you want to do, taking PrEP or using undetectable viral load are excellent strategies to prevent HIV transmission, and condoms are a great way to prevent the transmission of both HIV and STIs. Educating yourself well and taking the precautions that make sense for you is the best anyone can do. Figure out what works for you, and go have fun!
I’m HIV-negative and I’m hooking up with or dating a guy who says he’s HIV-positive — if I have sex with him, does that mean I am going to acquire HIV?
Not at all. Couples or sex partners where one guy is poz and the other is neg are very common. Guys can use a number of strategies to prevent the transmission of HIV such as PrEP, undetectable viral load and condoms.
Do I have to tell the guys I’m fucking that I’m poz?
It can be very hard to discuss HIV status, so there are a few things you can do to decide whether and how you might disclose.
Some guys wonder if they’ll get into legal trouble if they don’t share their HIV status. In Ontario, you’re not legally required to disclose if there isn’t a realistic chance of HIV transmission. In 2017, Ontario Crown Prosecutor guidelines changed to say that in cases where a person living with HIV is undetectable for at least six months or uses a condom, failure to disclose does not result in criminal liability for exposure to HIV, and charges will not proceed.
On the other hand, what the law says and what might be right for your relationships can be two different things. Sometimes sex happens in cruise, non-verbal environments where there’s an understanding of certain possibilities. Sometimes someone you thought might be a one-night stand turns into someone you want to share a deeper relationship with. Sometimes disclosure can put pop guys in danger.
Trust goes both ways, and as important as an HIV positive guy’s transparency is to a trusting relationship, HIV negative guys can do their part to build trust by making themselves safe people for HIV positive guys to open up to. They can do this by educating themselves on the science of U=U, and by avoiding perpetuating HIV stigma.
If you are interested in what legal experts are saying about this issue, HALCO has a very thorough legal guide about HIV disclosure that may be helpful. CATIE also has some useful information about HIV disclosure.
If someone is giving you a really hard time or talking about the legal implications of disclosure or non-disclosure, you may want to give them HALCO’s website or phone number. They will explain why bringing the law into this conversation isn’t a great idea for anyone involved.