HIV 101

Great sex is safe sex because if we aren't safe we could be putting ourselves at risk from HIV.  In New Zealand the most at risk group is gay and bisexual men followed by members of our African Communities.  To avoid the risks of HIV as well as other STIs you could just not have any sex, but for most of us this isn’t a realistic option.  So, how do you know what’s risky and if you’re at risk?  By reading these simple guidelines for safe sex, you’ll be able to understand for yourself where the risks are.


A few things to think about

  • in 2008, 184 people were diagnosed with HIV in Aotearoa
  • Among those who became infected while in New Zealand, most were gay and bisexual men who got HIV through Unprotected anal sex
  • men who have sex with men are roughly 37 times more likely to become infected with HIV than heterosexual men and women
  • the person most likely to pass on HIV probably doesn’t know they have it
  • use Condoms with water- or silicone-based Lube for anal and vaginal sex every time
  • if you have lots of sexual partners, get a sexual health check-up every three to six months.  Book an HIV and syphillis FASTest now




There’s no risk for HIV Transmission.

Oral sex - Penile  

Oral sex is a very low risk activity for HIV Transmission unless there is significant broken skin or gum disease in your mouth.

Oral sex - Vaginal

Oral sex is also very low risk unless there is significant broken skin or gum disease present in your mouth.  Like pre-Cum and semen, vaginal fluids can contain HIV in small amounts.  The HIV virus is present in menstrual fluid, so a dental dam (a small sheet of Latex) should be used as a barrier if the woman has her period.

Vaginal sex

Vaginal sex between a man and a woman carries significant risk of HIV Transmission if one partner has the virus. HIV in semen or pre-Cum can enter the bloodstream through cells lining the vaginal walls, whereas HIV in vaginal fluids can enter a man’s body through the end of his penis or the inner folds of his foreskin.  However, in New Zealand the risk of HIV infection this way is low because there is very little HIV among heterosexual men and women.  However, for those from groups with a high prevalence of HIV such as among men who have sex with men or within our African communities, the risk of Transmission through vaginal sex increases. Risk also increases when travelling abroad where HIV may be more prevalent among the heterosexual population.  To prevent HIV and reduce the chance of getting an STI use Condoms and Lube for vaginal sex.

Anal sex

When you don’t wear a condom, anal sex is the highest risk activity for men (active and passive) and women.  HIV in semen can enter the bloodstream by being absorbed into the body.  The inside of the anus acts like a sponge, absorbing nutrients from food passing through the body.  It Absorbs the HIV virus from pre-Cum or semen in the same way.  There is more HIV in the mucous that lines the rectum than in any other body fluid.  If your male, being the insertive partner and not not wearing a condom, the virus can enter your body through the end of your penis or the inner folds of your foreskin.

Tips for people living with HIV

For you, STIs are the biggest risk. Genital warts have been linked to anal cancers while syphilis and other STI's do impact on your viral load and make it easier for you to pass on HIV. Use condoms and lube regardless of the status of your partner.

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