HIV and AIDS – What You Need To Know

HIV and Aids: a guide to what you need to know.  I have just returned from an intensive week of university completing my post graduate studies in Sexology and have so many things to share, I don’t know where to start!!

Throughout the week, we explored a range of topics ranging from gender and sexual identity to paraphilia’s and BDSM.  Intention for the intensive week was to explore our personal assumptions, judgements and beliefs regarding sexual health and human sexual expression.

For someone who thought she was already educated in this field, it was invaluable experience to know there is so much more out there to know!

About HIV and Aids 

As I write this, I am listening to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen which reminds me of one topic in particular which I find so important to share. Their lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, died on the 24th of November, 1991. Due to complications associated with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

According to The World Health Organisation, his death was just one of over 35 million deaths associated with this illness since the early 1980’s outbreak. With 70 million people having contracted Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in this time.

HIV and aids
Mature Gay Health Risks

So much has changed since the early days of HIV.

Being infected with HIV used to be a death sentence. Now thanks to advancements in treatment options, HIV positive individuals can live a long and healthy life.

I wish to share some information that I believe is so important for all people to understand. It is obvious to me that in our society, there still exists a strong stigma and lack of education regarding HIV and AIDS.

This lack of education can lead to wrong assumptions and unhealthy judgements for people living with HIV. So I hope this article can shed some light on the reality of HIV Aids

What is HIV? 

HIV is a blood borne virus that attacks the body’s immune system.

If a person contracts HIV and does not seek treatment, the virus can develop into AIDS. Which is the later stage of HIV infection and leaves an individual susceptible to opportunistic infections.

Developing AIDS leads to a significantly lower life expectancy. Luckily treatment for HIV in Australia is readily available. A large majority of people who have contracted HIV will not develop AIDS.

PrEP Photo Banner HIV and Aids
Photo: PrEP – What You Need To Know About HIV/AIDS

How Can You Get HIV?

HIV can be contracted from semen, pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, breast milk or blood.

If any of these bodily fluids of a HIV positive individual enter the blood stream of another, there is a varied risk of contracting the virus depending on their viral loading. Viral loading being the level of HIV detectable in the blood).

This virus can be spread in many ways

Most common ways include anal sex, vaginal sex and intravenous drug use.

Just to be clear, you CANNOT contract HIV from the following

  • Air, water, mosquitoes, ticks, insects, saliva, tears, sweat that is not mixed with the blood of a HIV-positive person.
  • Shaking hands, hugging, sharing toilets, sharing dishes/drinking glasses.
  • Closed-mouth or “social” kissing with someone who is HIV-positive.
  • Drinking fountains.
  • Other sexual activities that don’t involve the exchange of body fluids (For example, touching).

As is with all sexually transmitted infections and BBV’s, abstinence is the only 100% effective way to avoid contracting HIV.  I am a realist and understand that with many people, abstinence from sexual activity is not a healthy option.

Luckily there are many extremely effective precautions that can be implemented into your sexual experiences. So that your chance of contracting HIV is diminished.

Precautions to Take 

Taking precautions such as using condoms with oral, vaginal and anal sex. Getting tested regularly. Avoiding contact with bodily fluids are some effective ways to avoid contracting HIV. Including the use of PrEP and PEP.

PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis)

An antiretroviral drug taken by HIV negative people to prevent HIV infection. It is becoming more readily available to certain demographics in Australia who are at greater risk of HIV. In particular for men who have sex with men.

Talk to you doctor or discuss with a health care professional at a sexual health clinic for more information.

PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis)

A 4-week course of an antiretroviral drug taken after potential exposure to HIV. It must be taken within 72 hours of exposure for it to be effective. Is best taken as soon as possible within this time frame.

It can be prescribed from Emergency Departments and sexual health clinics across Australia.

For those diagnosed with HIV

Antiretroviral drugs are the most common treatment option. These drugs work by keeping the viral loading of the drug (viral loading being the level of HIV in the blood) down. They are so advanced that the viral load of individuals taking them as prescribed can be undetectable.

This means that the chance of these people transmitting HIV to another person is extremely low.

HIV is not a death sentence like it used to be.

Despite being a virus that will stay with an individual for life, there is extremely effective treatment available in Australia. Which means a person with HIV can be undetectable and completely healthy.

Have safe sex to avoid being infected with an STI or BBV is extremely important for all sexually active individuals.

For more information, I highly recommend checking out the Ending HIV website and the Family Planning NSW website. There can be so much misleading information out there, it is important to learn from reputable sources.

hiv and aids

What’s It All About?

A New South Wales based organisation that is driven to assist people living with HIV to live with well-being. And also interact with the lesbian, gay, bi, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities.

Formed in 1985 as the AIDS Council of NSW, ACON has developed as an imaginative and effective association that has changed the general population on the disease as assisted those effected with support for issues faced.

ACON has actively liaised with similar organisations and government bodies instigating active dialogue to address issues getting professional advice’s from specialists in various fields.

It has also taken an active role in educating LGBTI how protect themselves from infection and lead a sexually well lifestyle,

ACON Banner - HIV and aids
Aids Council of Australia

Their mission is to improve the well being of group/s with HIV

  • Ending HIV transmission among men who have intercourse with men(MSM).
  • Promoting the deep seeded well being of LGBTI individuals and individuals with HIV.

ACON promotes the well-being and health of the LGBTQI communities and individuals with HIV.  Likewise provide assistance and advice to those that may be in danger of being infected by the disease. Such as sex workers, people who take drugs and families/carers of those with HIV.

Programs and events are run to educate where infection is in most danger of occurring and ensuring that every person human rights are met.

Acon also helps those influenced by the HIV virus with serious issues

  • Sexual well-being.
  • Mental well-being.
  • Alcohol and other medication abuses.
  • Mature Gays and The Ageing.
  • Homophobic Actions.
  • Domestic Abuse Incidents.
  • Counseling.
  • Community care.
  • Housing.
  • Workplace Equality.

ACON fills the void of many other community services

Because of either lack of information available or inability to react.

At ACON personal well-being issues are met head on and proactively. Where possible a team of dedicated social workers, specialists with experience and expertise that understand that it can cause separation and social detachment.

Their administrators provide proven data to enhance the current support available within New South Wales.

ACON want to Accomplish

  • An end to the HIV/AIDS plague in Australia and internationally.
  • A sound, strong and comprehensive LGBTI sex positive group.
  • Society that secures and advances human rights for the good of all.

ACON additionally manages Men’s Health Issues, Women’s Health Issues, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, The Asian Community, MAGS, Sex Workers, People With HIV.


They are active in education to decrease HIV transmission by instructing gay men about how to lead a safe lifestyle and be free from getting HIV.  And they help individuals with HIV to  minimize the impacts of the disease. By supplying resources and  care groups, workshops, information about the best HIV medicines, home-based care, transport solutions, accommodation,  treatments, holistic approaches, food and social events.

Did you know?

  • There is one person diagnosed with HIV in New South Wales every day.
  • Gay men represent around 75% of new diagnosis and their normal age is 39.
  • NSW is one of the few places on the planet where the rate of new HIV infections has stayed stable for more than 10 years.
  • Over 10,000 individuals with HIV are living in NSW. This is over 60% of all individuals with HIV in Australia.
  • About 80% of people who are HIV positive in NSW are gay men.








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