What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight infections and disease. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Unfortunately there is no cure for HIV but in the last 10 years there has been medication/treatments that are available to help those with HIV have a long and healthy life.
AIDS and HIV?
AIDS and HIV are similar conditions but have different elements to them. AIDS in the final stage of the HIV infection when your body can no longer fight infections which becomes very life threatening for individuals. But with early dignosis and the correct treatment a HIV suffer will not go on to develop AIDS.
How does someone get HIV?
HIV is found in 4 main bodily fluids which include semen, vaginal/anal fluids, blood and breast milk. If the virus is outside of the body for so long it will not survive as it is a fragile virus. You cannot catch HIV through sharing the same drinks, sharing the same cigarette or using the same cutlery of the individual who has HIV. The most common way of catching HIV is by having unprotected sex, but other ways may include:
- Using a contaminated needle.
- Transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding.
- Through oral sex or sharing sex toys.
The myths surrounding HIV/AIDS:
- “Only gay men get HIV” – It is true that gay men are particularly affected by HIV as a group but HIV can still affect anyone and there are many heterosexuals living with HIV in the UK. Anyone who has sex without a condom or shares needles when injecting drugs is at risk of HIV.
- “If you get HIV you’ll die soon” – There isn’t a cure for HIV, treatment is so advanced that it is no longer considered a death sentence. People diagnosed with HIV in the UK today can have a near-normal life expectancy and live healthy and active lives.
HIV/AIDS in Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender individuals?
- 1 in 20 gay men in the UK have HIV. But shockingly this rises to 1 in 10 men in London alone and 1 in 8 in Brighton!
- Almost 27% of individuals in UK don’t know they have the virus.
- Over 45,000 Gay/Bisexual men in the UK have HIV.
- For Lesbian individuals catching HIV from another woman is very rare as there has only ever been 5 reported cases. HIV positive Lesbians may have occurred from sharing needles or other equipment that penetrates the skin.
I couldn’t find any statistics for the transgender community but I have managed to find some information on transgender males/females when it comes to sex:
- Rimming – It has an extremely low risk for HIV but it is possible to pick up other sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis A or shigella or gonorrhea.
- Frottage – Frottage involved rubbing genitals together without any penetrative sex. There is generally a lower risk for developing HIV through frottage but there is a must more increased risk of developing skin contact viruses which include herpes, syphilis or genital warts.
- Vaginal sex may be great and really enjoyable, however for some transgender people it can also be uncomfortable and at times cause bleeding which can cause a sexually transmitted diseases to spread into the body whether its through the vagina or anus, especially if you have recently had surgery.
Websites to look on: