Risk of HIV among Men having sex with men

Get Tested, HIV

Why are men who have sex with men at risk of HIV ?

In some settings, criminalisation of consensual, adult same-sex behaviour, stigma, discrimination and violence against men who have sex with men has created an environment which compromises people’s human rights and where they are less likely to access essential HIV and health services. MSM (men who have sex with men): In this technical brief, MSM refers to all males – of any age – who engage in sexual and/or romantic relations with other males.

The words “men” and “sex” are interpreted differently in diverse cultures and societies, as well as by the individuals involved. Therefore, the term “men who have sex with men” encompasses the large variety of settings and contexts in which male-to-male sex takes place, across multiple motivations for engaging in sex, self-determined sexual and gender identities, and various identifications with particular community or social groups.

Governments have a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children to life, health and development, and indeed, societies share an ethical duty to ensure this for all young people. This includes taking steps to lower their risk of acquiring HIV, while developing and strengthening protective systems to reduce their vulnerability.

risk of hiv

However, in many cases, young people from key populations are made more vulnerable by policies and laws that demean, criminalize or penalize them or their behaviours, and by education and health systems that ignore or reject them and that fail to provide the information and treatment they need to keep themselves safe.

Young MSM are often more vulnerable than older MSM to the effects of homophobia – manifested in discrimination, bullying, harassment, family disapproval, social isolation and violence – as well as criminalization and self-stigmatization. These can have serious repercussions for their physical and mental health; their ability to access HIV testing, counselling and treatment; their emotional and social development; as well as their ability to access education, vocational training and viable work opportunities.

Is there any risk attached to oral sex and anal sex?

Oral sex: One needs to know that the AIDS virus is present in secretions, including the vaginal secretions of a woman and the semen (in both the pre-ejaculation lubricating mucus and the ejaculate, or “cum”) of a man. This means that taking the partner’s sexual secretions into the mouth can pose a risk of infection, though the risk is not very high.

It is strongly advisable to carry out oral sex only with some kind of protection. One should use a condom on the erect penis, and place a thin rubber sheet or “dam” over the woman’s genitals.

Anal Sex: AIDS virus more easily gets transmitted from an infected person to another person during anal sex.

In these circumstances, using a well-lubricated condom is absolutely essential for protection. Unlike the vagina, which produces secretions that lubricate vaginal sex, the anus does not produce lubricating secretions. Without such lubrication, the additional friction during anal sex can cause regular condoms to tear. In some places, it is possible to get condoms made especially for anal sex. If these are not available, one should really try to be on the safer side – look for other ways to have sexual satisfaction.

Can I get HIV from oral sex?

Yes. While there is considerable debate within the HIV/AIDS prevention community regarding the risk of transmission of HIV through oral sex. What is currently known is that there is some risk associated with performing oral sex without protection; (there have been a few documented cases of HIV transmission through oral sex).

While no one knows exactly what that risk is, cumulative evidence indicates that the risk is less than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex. The risk from receiving oral sex, for both a man and a woman, is considered to be very low. Currently, risk reduction options when performing oral sex on a man (fellatio) include the use of latex condoms, especially when cuts or sores are present in the mouth. (Source: Centers for Disease Control – CDC)

Will I get HIV from anal sex?

Yes, it is possible for either sex partner to become infected with HIV during anal sex. HIV can be found in the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, or vaginal fluid of a person infected with HIV virus. In general, the person receiving the semen is at greater risk of getting HIV because the lining of the rectum is thin and may cause tear of anus and penis thus may allow the HIV virus to enter the body during anal sex. However, a person who inserts his penis into an infected partner also is at risk of HIV because HIV can enter through the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis) or through small cuts, abrasions, or open sores on the penis.

Having unprotected (without a condom) anal sex is considered to be a high risky behaviour. If people choose to have anal sex, they should use a latex condom with water-based lubricant. Most of the time, condoms work well. However, condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than during vaginal sex. Thus, even with a condom, anal sex can be risky. A person should use a water-based lubricant in addition to the condom to reduce the chances of the condom breaking. (NACO)