What Men Should Know

Screening for HIV

Every one of us is concerned about HIV and yet most of us are unsure of our HIV status. 

Reasons often cited by guys for not having an HIV screening

  • By not having the test I can avoid HIV completely 
    FACT: You can avoid the test but you can’t avoid the reality of HIV. Not undergoing a screening will not make HIV go away. HIV is a reality, it’s all around us and each of us needs to assume responsibility for our own sexual health. 
  • I’ve never been exposed to the virus 
    FACT: Most of us have had several sexual partners and yet we believe we’re somehow not at risk. We trust that our sexual partners would tell us if they’re positive, or we dismiss the fact that we’ve had a potentially risky experience. If you’re not entirely sure of your own status, other guys can’t be sure of their status either; they could have been infected after their last test. Or they may be scared to tell you that they’re HIV positive.
     
  • I won’t be able to deal with the result if I’m positive 
    FACT: Most guys undergoing an HIV screening are HIV negative! Everyone experiences a degree of shock if they test HIV positive, but at least they know their status – you could be HIV positive without knowing it. There are many benefits to knowing your status, and Health4Men are here to support you till you find your emotional balance again.
     
  • I’m scared of needles 
    FACT: If having blood drawn from your arm, or big needles and syringes scare you, rest assured: most HIV screenings only require a single drop of blood which is obtained through a tiny finger prick. At Health4Men clinics we only need a drop of blood to give you a reliable result.
     
  • I’m too busy to deal with this now 
    FACT: Previously, an HIV screening involved blood being sent to a laboratory and guys waited a few days, even weeks, for their results. Nowadays, reliable rapid screenings take approximately 20 minutes. A fraction of your time to provide you with vital information regarding your own health. Health4Men clinics use raid testing – quick, easy and reliable.
     
  • I’m in a monogamous relationship so I needn’t worry 
    FACT: Often, our partners don’t know their own HIV status and – like us – assume that they’re negative. In other instances partners cheat on each other and don’t disclose that they could have been exposed to the virus. It could be wise for both partners to undergo a screening before agreeing to stop using condoms. Health4Men clinics offer professional same-sex couple counselling. 
     
  • I usually play safe and use condoms 99% of the time 
    FACT: Even though we usually play safely, infection could occur on the rare occasions we’ve taken a risk. Perhaps you were too drunk, or you used chems, and can’t remember exactly what happened?
     
  • I’m usually top so my risk is lower 
    FACT: It is true that guys who are bottom (anally receptive) are at a higher risk of HIV infection because they’re more likely to be exposed to their partner’s semen (cum), which poses a high risk for infection. However, the anal lining is very fragile and tiny amounts of blood are likely to be present in your partner’s rectum (ass) during anal sex. In addition, a top is exposed to anal fluids secreted during anal sex.
     
  • If I had HIV I’d know – I’d feel ill or ‘different ‘ 
    FACT: Most guys who are HIV positive don’t know their status – they feel perfectly healthy. Many guys experience flu-like symptoms within weeks of infection but these soon pass and they feel fine again. Years could pass before they notice any HIV-related symptoms again, and all this while they could be infecting others, thinking that they’re negative.
     
  • If I test HIV positive I’ll need to go onto medication 
    FACT: Merely screening positive for HIV doesn’t mean that you’ll need any medication or treatment. Treatment, in the form of anti-retroviral treatment (ARVs) is only commenced when your immune system is severely compromised, which is determined by your CD4 count. 
     
  • If I’m HIV positive people will reject me 
    FACT: If you screen positive for HIV you’ll be in total control of whom you disclose your HIV status to. HIV screening is totally confidential and no-one has the right to disclose your status to someone else unless you want them to. And we’ll be here to support and advise you.
     
  • I won’t meet a partner, or have sex again, if I’m positive 
    FACT: You’ll be exactly the same person you are now. Many guys who are positive form relationships with guys who are either also positive or negative. The main thing is that you’ll be able to be honest, and you’ll be able to prevent your partner being infected if he’s negative.

Reducing your number of sexual partners and consistent use of water-based lubricant and condoms remain your best defence against STIs and HIV!