HIV is just one of the many viruses you are likely to catch whenever you have unprotected sex. No matter if it’s full sex or just oral nor if you’re straight or non-straight, a top or a bottom, a man or a woman: safer sex doesn’t mean you can’t get infected. Don’t panic, though! It’s not as bad as it sounds – as long as you get regularly tested.
A healthy human body is pretty unlikely to catch HIV. A human body with high levels of alcohol and drugs is a whole other thing. These substances remarkably weaken the immune system, making it much easier for infections (of all types) to spread. Before continuing to read, you’d better be aware that I did not try to “sweeten the pill” in this post.
At first, when you get HIV, you feel just nothing. In most cases, something happens after a while, though. Temperature, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches, poor appetite appear altogether out of the blue and go on for days, weeks sometimes. It looks and feels like flu, but it’s way worse than regular flu. In several other cases, symptoms of contagion just come as a slight cold that never seems to go away. Time goes by, and you feel weaker and weaker. It’s the HIV attacking your defenses while spreading into your body.
Something as simple as a blood test can save your life and prevent you from going through something you don’t want to go through. In case you just got infected with HIV, you will start a treatment consisting of a drug to take on an empty stomach – you may ask: “that’s it?” Yep, that’s it.
The drug therapy will fight the virus but won’t eradicate it, unfortunately. It becomes like a chronic disease since the medication prevents the infection from spreading and keeps you alive. The amount of HIV in your body will drop as low as to be undetectable in your blood tests. Just so you know, it’s as if the virus keeps making babies while the pill kills them all. (Yeah, I know… this is not a romantic picture)
The good news is that no detected HIV on treatment is contagious. Once the virus is undetectable in one’s blood tests, it means it has become untransmittable (U=U). For this simple reason, if we all got tested and started due treatment, HIV would probably become extinct within a generation.
The bad news is that, if you don’t get tested and don’t start the needed treatment (in case you result to be HIV+), it doesn’t take long for HIV to fuck your immune system up and progress to AIDS. At that stage, you won’t call it a virus anymore. It’s a disease now. One pill a day won’t keep the doctor away. You might end up hospitalized and need chemo, lots of strength, and patience. But above all this, you will have to deal with something you could have avoided by simply getting tested.
According to a leading sexual health clinic based in London, HIV transmission has dropped significantly during the current coronavirus lockdown. “Fewer hook-ups since lockdown has resulted in a huge reduction of HIV and other STIs. The chain is broken. We may never get this chance again,” the organization claimed, explaining that the coronavirus pandemic has presented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity in the fight against HIV”.
The clinic says if everyone gets tested during lockdown and knows their status, HIV transmission could be kept at this low rate after the pandemic has come to a close. Those who test positive during lockdown can start taking medication straight away, which, if taken properly, would make it impossible for them to pass it on to others through condomless sex.
So? Still there, my dear? What are you waiting for? Save time, save lives, save yourself. Get tested today.
Alessandro Cozzolino, LGBT+ coach