What Men Should Know

Health4Men: Mary Unfaithful

Mary Unfaithful: Keeping HIV out of the affair

Poems, plays, songs, movies and series explore a subject that never seems to go out of fashion because it’s been a sticky topic throughout history: Infidelity.  Maybe you’ve been cheated on, or maybe you’ve been the cheater. Perhaps you just don’t know. Then again, you and your partner may have an open relationship that doesn’t require being sexually exclusive with one another. Whatever the case, HIV need not be on the menu, even if having a side-dish is.

Condoms

If you are in an exclusive monogamous relationship, using condoms is still an effective way to practice safer sex.  Condoms are your first line of defence against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections when you’re having sex with another person.  If you are likely to have sex with someone other than your partner, make sure that you use a condom.  The last thing you want to do is give your partner an unwanted infection or disease. If you suspect that your partner may be cheating on you, reintroducing condoms may be a challenge, but if you can, it will at least provide some peace of mind.  Make sure you use condoms and water-based lubricant.

PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis)

If you’ve had sex that may have put you at risk for HIV, you can take a course of ARVs if you test HIV-negative, within 72 hours of doing the deed; known as PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).  PEP won’t treat other STIs like chlamydia, syphilis and hepatitis, but if you have been at risk of HIV for whatever reason, it can help to prevent HIV infection. If you have had unprotected sex with someone other than your partner and decide to take PEP, be aware that you may still be at risk of other infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, hepatitis and syphilis, and you could infect your partner with these even if you are not showing any symptoms. You can also become infected with many of these STIs (gonnorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia) even if you only have oral sex.

You should get tested for STIs too and should warn your partner if you have been put at risk of any infections so your partner can seek treatment too.

PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis)

If you know (or suspect) that your partner is having sex with other people, but you wish to continue having condom-free sex with your partner, you can take certain steps if you are HIV-negative and wish to remain that way.  Speak to your healthcare provider about going onto a course of ARVs known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).  PrEP could lessen the chances of you being infected with HIV by 92%.  PrEP does not offer any protection against other STIs like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, HPV (genital warts) and hepatitis, so you should be tested for these if you believe that your partner may be engaging in sex with other people in such a way as to put you at risk.

Adherence

If you are HIV-positive, ensure that you always use a condom when having sex, especially if you are having sex regularly with more than one person.  This will protect you from getting other sexually transmitted infections as well as prevent you from infecting someone else with HIV.  If you and your partner prefer to have condom-free sex, you can encourage your partner to go onto PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) if they are HIV-negative to significantly decrease the chances of you infecting them. If you do take ARVs, take them regularly and adhere to the regimen that your healthcare provider has given you.  This should keep your viral load down, which will lessen how much of the virus is present in your body and could diminish the chances of you infecting someone who is HIV-negative if you do have condom-free penetrative or oral sex. Have you heard about U=U? Click here to find out about this scientific breakthrough.

For more combination prevention strategies follow this the link to this article on Health4Men:
http://www.health4men.co.za/resources/02/19/combination_prevention_theres_more_on_the_menu_than_you_thought/