If you are HIV negative:
- Get tested every 3 months: If you live in Hampshire, are aged over 18, and do not have any symptoms – you can order your online test kit here.
- Whether it’s 1-on-1 or a group, talk with your sexual partners about HIV and STIs. Ask them if they have been tested recently and let them know your testing history. Although it may be difficult - talk about your HIV status.
- USE CONDOMS every time you have anal sex. No matter if you’re the top or bottom both parties are responsible. Keep a good supply with you at all times and change them regularly (after 30 minutes maximum) and for each different partner.
- Be aware that approximately 17% of people with HIV are unaware of their status. These people are the most likely to transmit their HIV, as they will not be taking treatment and may believe they are HIV negative. For this reason, serosorting (having unprotected sex only with people you believe to be HIV negative) is very risky.
If you are concerned you might have been exposed to HIV (had unprotected sex with someone whose HIV status you do not know, or know to be positive, or shared injecting equipment), you may be eligible for PEP. Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP or PEPSE) is medication you can take to help reduce the chance of HIV transmission. It is a course of medication that is taken after unprotected sex where there has been a higher risk of exposure. PEP or PEPSE should be taken as soon as possible after sex, and definitely within 72 hours. The earlier it is started the more likely it is to work. You will need to have an assessment with a doctor or nurse before you are prescribed this medication. In hours, attend one of our clinics or after hours attend your nearest A&E department.
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been shown to be highly effective at preventing HIV infection in those at high risk. Unfortunately this treatment is currently not available on the NHS, however a further trial open to 10,000 people in England is due to start in Summer 2017. Ask in clinic for further details, or visit the iwantprepnow website . If you choose to buy PrEP online before it becomes available, we are happy to provide advice and monitoring.
If you are HIV positive:
- Being on treatment with an undetectable viral load can drastically reduce your risk of passing on HIV. If you are not taking medications, ask your clinic about starting. If you are taking medications, it is important to continue taking the tablets every day and attend your clinic appointments for regular monitoring.
- Having another STI can make you more likely to transmit HIV. Get tested at least every 3 months.
- If you are HIV positive, consider telling potential partners before you have sex. That way, you can avoid awkward situations when they find out later.
- If your viral load is detectable, USE CONDOMS every time you have anal sex.
- If a condom splits or comes off, ensure your partner is aware of your HIV status so he can start PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) if appropriate.