Getting tested at the clinic doesn’t prevent you from catching HIV and STIs

By | 4th October 2018

An Asian gay man has talked to the BBC about his experience of coming to terms with being HIV+.

In some respects the article sends out a confusing message.

“Sexual health clinics do amazing work, but for Asians it’s a struggle to get through the door,” he says.

“Most gay men are quite clocked on, going to get tested regularly…

“I could have protected myself. I knew about HIV, but I was so ashamed of going to the clinic, I buried my head in the sand.”

This suggests that going to the clinic and getting tested somehow prevents you from catching HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But it doesn’t. You get tested to find out whether you have an infection or not. If you’re then diagnosed HIV positive, it’s already too late as there is no cure.

This man probably isn’t talking about going to the clinic to get condoms as relatively few gay men get them that way. He could mean visiting to get PrEP of course, though it isn’t mentioned, and PrEP doesn’t protect against any STI other than HIV.

Getting tested at the clinic means you get treatment promptly if you have an infection. This means you will pass it on to as few other people as possible.

That is the main reason why getting tested is promoted so strongly. It is to protect other people from you.

Note that the word condom doesn’t appear once in the whole article. Despite condoms being the best all round protection against STIs including HIV and the fact that this man now works in “sexual health education, as an outreach worker for the Terrence Higgins Trust.”

Disturbing… Or perhaps the article has been badly-written and left out that part?

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