I Like Variety, Lots of It

Research (and common sense) tells us that the more partners you have, the more likely you are to pick up or pass on HIV or another STI. That said, guys will be guys and when so much sex is available, it can be easy to indulge again and again. It’s important to remember that it is possible to have many partners and still reduce your risk of HIV transmission.

Reduce Your Risk

Condoms

Condoms are still an effective tool to reduce the risk of picking up or passing on HIV is to use condoms when having anal sex, particularly with guys whose HIV status you don’t know or are unsure of or with guys whose status is not the same as yours.

When using condoms, it is a good idea to use lube. Take your time; do not rush it! Rushed or aggressive anal sex can increase the likelihood of condom tears and other problems.

PrEP

In reference to HIV transmission, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) refers to a prevention strategy in which HIV-negative individuals take an anti-HIV medication once-a-day. While PrEP is a relatively new prevention tool, studies have shown that an individual who is on PrEP and adheres to treatment guidelines is risk-free from contracting HIV in the occasion that they are exposed to the virus. British Columbians can access PrEP without cost as of January 2018.

Check out HIM’s getpreped.ca for everything you need to know about PrEP.

It’s important to remember that while PrEP effectively protects from HIV, it does not protect from other STIs, so you might want to consider using PrEP along with some of the other risk-reduction tools outlined in this page.

Testing

Knowing your HIV status and that of your partner will allow you to make decisions about how to best reduce sexual risk-taking (this requires regular HIV testing).

Limit Your Partners

Another way to reduce your risk is to limit your number of partners, or establish friends-with-benefits, or regular partners who you communicate with and trust.

Semen

Sometimes guys forget that semen can be on their hands or faces. Try not to get semen in your eyes. Using someone else’s semen as lube when you masturbate can also be risky. If a finger goes in your anus, make sure it doesn’t have someone else’s semen on it.

Harm Reduction (may be less risky, but not risk-free)

Guys reduce the spread of HIV in several other ways:

  • having less risky sex (hand jobs, oral sex, etc.)
  • sero-sorting (looking for partners with the same HIV status)
  • not ejaculating inside each other (pulling out or withdrawal)
  • ensuring that both partners are free of other STIs by getting tested

Undetectable Viral Load

The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and other HIV/AIDS research institutions have found that the risk of HIV transmission for sero-discordant couples (one is positive, the other is negative) is nonexistent if the HIV-positive partner is on treatment, has an undetectable viral load and is free of STIs.