Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks certain cells in your immune system. Over time if not treated, HIV can progress into AIDS – though due to modern medicine and more regular testing practices, this is less common.
With proper testing, treatment, and medical care, people who are diagnosed with HIV can live long, healthy, and normal lives without fear of spreading the disease.
How do you get HIV?
HIV is spread from bodily fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. Someone can contract HIV if the fluids from someone with HIV enters their body. This may be through sex, cuts, and injections.
You can contract HIV from:
- Having unprotected sex (both anal and vaginal)
- Sharing needles
- Sharing body piercings and tattoo equipment
- Vertical transmission (pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding)
In Australia, blood transfusions and medical procedures are safe due to our safety protocols. This is also true for getting tattoos and piercings at licensed venues – however some countries do not follow these same safety protocols, so take caution when travelling.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
HIV is commonly known for its lack of symptoms, which is why testing is so important. People can live for years with HIV without ever having issues or noticing anything out of the ordinary.
Some people may experience flu-like symptoms when they first contract HIV as their body is trying to fight off the virus. These symptoms may include:
- Night sweats
- Rashes, aches, and pains.
Most people will not develop any symptoms, so it is important to keep up with regular testing to make sure you know your status, and so that you don’t accidentally pass on the virus if you have contracted it.
Information about HIV
How do you treat HIV?
HIV is treated with medicines called antiretrovirals (ARVs). Unfortunately, once you contract HIV there is currently no way to get rid of it, but ARVs can help reduce the active levels of HIV in your body and stop it from harming your immune system.
Once the virus has been reduced to low enough levels, HIV cannot be passed on through sexual contact, meaning people living with HIV can have active, healthy sexual lives.
People living with HIV can live long, happy, and healthy lives once treatment has started. Ideally, the sooner treatment is started the better your health will be.
How do I find out if I have HIV?
The only way to know for certain if you have HIV is to have a test.
In WA, there are many ways you can have a HIV test, including:
- Visiting a sexual health clinic
- Talking to your GP, and
- Completing an at-home HIV self-test
HIV tests are easy, confidential, and often free at many clinics and will be covered by your Medicare.
How can I prevent HIV?
There are many ways you can help prevent contracting or passing on HIV to others, including:
- Using condoms and lubricant
- Accessing treatment and maintaining an undetectable viral load
- Taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
- Taking Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
- Using sterile injecting equipment if taking recreational drugs
You are welcome at M Clinic
M Clinic provides confidential, judgement-free services for men who have sex with men, gay, trans, gender-queer, and non-binary people of the LGBTQIA+ community.
If you are unsure if we are the right clinic for you, get in touch and we will be able to help you find the right fit for your needs.
Trans and Non-binary
We offer services for trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse persons seeking to get medical advice in a safe and accepting environment.
Men Who Have Sex With Men
If you’re a man and have sex with other men, M Clinic provides a safe space where you can get tested without judgement or questions.
Gay and Questioning
If you identify as gay, bi, or questioning and want a clinic that reflects you, you are always welcome to come to M Clinic for your next checkup.