HIV Detection & Transmission

From Acute HIV to living your best HIV-positive (poz) life, our HIM experts can equip you with the latest research and sound advice on staying healthy no matter what your status is.

The best way to avoid HIV infection in the first place is to use condoms or PrEP, or to know if your partner is HIV positive or undetectable.

Acute HIV & HIV Testing

  1. Acute HIV Infection is the first phase of HIV Infection. It begins when a person is infected with HIV and lasts for about two months.
  2. A person with Acute HIV Infection is more likely to transmit HIV to others if they are fucking without using PrEP or condoms. During the first couple of months after infection, HIV is a powerhouse in the sack. In this early stage of HIV, it’s much easier to pass on the virus. Since the body hasn’t yet built up any antibodies, the virus can replicate itself quickly. This means that within a few days after infection, the amount of HIV in a man’s blood, cum and other bodily fluids can get very high.
  3. The early HIV test can detect HIV during the Acute Infection phase. The early HIV test (also known as NAAT/RNA) is the best test for detecting acute HIV infection. It’s available to guys over the age of 18 at several clinics in Vancouver, including HIM Health Centres.
  4. The early HIV test looks for the HIV virus. Other tests look for antibodies. Most people have enough of the virus in their blood 7 to 10 days after being infected for the early test to detect HIV infection.

What is undetectable HIV?

Over the past few years, you might have heard a couple new phrases being used when guys talk about HIV prevention: “Treatment as Prevention” (also known as TasP) and “undetectable.” The two phrases are interconnected: when HIV-positive guys are on treatment, their viral load can drop to the point that it might not even be detected by some kinds of HIV tests. This means they are HIV undetectable.

Undetectable means different things in different places, but refers to the copies of the HIV virus that are present in a mL of an individual’s blood at the time of the test. In BC, undetectable refers to 40 copies of HIV per mL of blood, but in other places it is 50, or even 200. The number in each area is determined based on that jurisdiction’s approach to HIV prevention.

Undetectable? Then it’s untransmittable.

When a guy is practicing Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and undetectable, the virus cannot be transmitted, regardless of whether he is using other kinds of prevention tools like condoms or PrEP. Undetectable equals untransmittable!

Some medical providers recommend using secondary prevention strategies like condoms or PrEP with undetectable partners. However, some medical providers feel that Treatment as Prevention works fine as a standalone HIV prevention tool, especially for monogamous couples where one guy is neg and the other guy is poz.

Need more info about HIV transmission & detection?

HIM staff are happy to help; please get in touch if you have more questions. For more information on undetectability and HIV, check out this amazing resource from the Prevention Access Campaign.

Safety first!

Your sexual health encompasses more than just HIV. Use other prevention methods if you think you need them, especially to prevent contracting or transmitting other STIs.

Free Condoms

Condoms are still a great way to reduce risk of exposure to HIV and STIs, and are available in all of our Health Centres in different sizes. We also offer non-latex condoms!

Is PrEP right for you?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a new HIV prevention tool for guys who fuck guys. Interested in learning more?

PEP — Post Exposure Prophylaxis

If you’ve fucked without a condom and are concerned that you might have been exposed to HIV in the past 72 hours, PEP can help prevent HIV transmission. You must start treatment within 72 hours after exposure—the sooner the better.

HIM honours the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, and the territories of many nations on the west coast of Turtle Island, on whose unceded and stolen land we live and work. As uninvited inhabitants, we acknowledge that this space is and always will be Indigenous land.

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