Jan 2009

HIV

There are approximately 86,000 people living with HIV within the UK. With only 2 % between heterosexual and homosexual transmission, numbers of new infections are continuing to rise within gay communities.

It is estimated that there are between 8, 0000 – 10,000 gay men living in the UK with HIV, but are currently unaware of their status. Whilst there continue to be lots of reasons why men don't like attending the clinic, there remains one important reason why you should. Taking the test means earlier detection of the virus. Knowledge that can help you take control of your result whether its positive or negative.

Routes of Transmission

Oral sex carries a 3% risk of catching HIV, especially if you are the one doing all the work. Avoid brushing your teeth or flossing before hand to reduce the likelihood of abrasions on your gums, be a healthy homo and stay fresh with a minty mouth wash instead!!

Anal Sex continues to be the highest risk of HIV transmission especially if unprotected. Always use a condom and plenty of lube to reduce the likelihood of transmission, and remember traces of HIV can now be found in pre cum so the withdrawal method is well and truly out the window.

Kissing carries no risk of HIV transmission, so pucker up and hold on tight!

Cuddling not just a handy way to keep warm in winter, so show someone you care and give them a big hug!

Toilet Seats whilst there are many things lurking in your toilet rest assured HIV is not one of them. Even if there was blood in the pan this would automatically be diluted or destroyed by cleaning detergents.

Sharing Cutlery HIV isn't transmitted through Saliva so no need to use disposable cuts and throwaway plates!

Mosquitos blood hungry these holiday hunters live off of blood but cannot pass the virus on.

Saliva you would need to drink up to 2 litres of someone's spit to be at risk of catching HIV, so stick to cola…it tastes better!

Seroconversion

HIV is at its most infectious when it first enters your body, whilst most people don't experience any symptoms, some report:

  • Aches and pains
  • Dramatic Weight Loss
  • Night Sweat
  • Tiredness
  • Fevers
  • Rashes

This set of symptoms is referred to as seroconversion illness. Although seasonally mistaken for 'manflu' anyone experiencing them are always encouraged to attend a sexual health clinic for screening.

Testing

HIV lives in blood, so it makes sense for us to test for the virus using a blood sample. A relatively pain free and speedy process, a small amount of blood is taken from the arm and sent to the lab for testing under a confidential patient number.

Window Period Testing

HIV can take up to three months to show up on a blood test. You may therefore be advised to re attend the clinic for window period testing to account for any potential risk that you may have been exposed to.

PEP

PEP stands for Post Exposure Phrophylaxis and is treatment available for those who have put themselves at considerable risk of catching HIV as a result of unprotected sex. The morning after pill it is not!

Given over a course of one month this treatment regimen is made up of HIV medication, but can help prevent HIV developing within the body by up to 80%.In order for this to be effective treatment must commence within the first 72 hours, side effects still apply!

HIV & PEP Information

Treatment

Not everyone living with HIV needs to take medication. The decision to commence this is dependent upon the results of infection monitoring which is usually carried out as part of your ongoing care.

Commencing treatment can help to suppress the amount of active virus within your body, as well as supporting the immune system. Whilst these are usually well tolerated some people experience:

  • Vivid dreams
  • Sickness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness

These typically last between 6-8 weeks as the body adjusts to having the medication in your system. Once started, treatment is life long, but can drastically improve your quality of life as well as helping to prevent opportunistic infections.

What next?

For more information contact us: 01202-257478 or
email: overtherainbow2@dchft.nhs.uk

At Over The Rainbow staff are present Tuesday - Friday, 10am to 5pm , Bournemouth and at other venues throughout the county.

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