Introduction to Health Pages
This page provides basic information about HIV/AIDS. Check out all the health pages for more topics
PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT THIS INFORMATION IS NOT MEANT TO PROVIDE A DIAGNOSIS OR TO NECESSARILY PRESENT THE MOST UP TO DATE INFORMATION.
We will always try to keep this information as relevant as possible, but if in doubt please speak to a medical professional. This information is not meant to be negative or frightening in anyway. It is provided to help men make informed choices about how they play so that they can be safer and have great, hot sex. A section is also included for POZ prevention (safer play for HIV+ men, as well as health concerns you should be aware of if you are HIV+)
IMPORTANT HEALTH NOTICES
HIV & AIDS - Know The Facts
This video was produced by Penny Foulds under direction of the M2M Outreach Coordinator and ACDR's Education Services. Ms. Foulds was a Durham College student intern who worked with us.
Myths about HIV/AIDS
Watch this video by Dr. Becky Kuhn the Co-Founder of Global Lifeworks on HIV/AIDS myths
HIV is a virus that attacks your immune system. It is not the same thing as AIDS. Once the virus gets into your body, which can happen by having unprotected sex, sharing intravenous needles with someone who is HIV+ or sharing ink needles when tattooing or body piercing. If you are concerned about the risks of tattooing & body piercing you can check the fetish page for tips on how to remain safe and enjoy your body art! The virus requires a way into your blood stream and can be carried in blood, cum, pre-cum and anal fluids. AIDS is the final stage of progression in an HIV infection. Many people live for 15+ years without developing AIDS. However, there is no cure for HIV so your best option is always prevention. People do not die of AIDS, they die as a result of their immune system being so weakened by HIV that they cannot fight off other infections which are not normally fatal to people with a healthy immune system.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HIV
If symptoms do occur, they will happen within 3-5 weeks after the time of infection and are often flu-like.
MANY PEOPLE, HOWEVER, ARE HIV+ AND DO NOT HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS AT ALL!
IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO THE HIV VIRUS THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION IS TO GET AN ANONYMOUS HIV TEST SO YOU'LL KNOW YOUR STATUS. YOU MAY NOT HAVE SYMPTOMS FOR YEARS. IF YOU GET TESTED AND YOU ARE HIV+ YOUR DOCTOR AND YOU WILL DECIDE WHEN TO BEGIN TREATMENT. TODAY'S TREATMENTS FOR HIV CAN EXTEND YOUR LIFE TO A NORMAL LIFESPAN, SO GETTING TESTED EARLY IS IMPORTANT.
WHAT IT DOES TO YOUR BODY
DID YOU KNOW...
Gay, bisexual and MSM make up 50% of new diagnoses and 60% of those living with HIV/AIDS in Canada. 2011 saw a significant increase in new diagnoses of HIV in gay, bisexual and MSM over the age of 40.
Anonymous HIV/AIDS Testing Sites in Durham Region
Suite 180, Upper Level, Office Galleria (north end of Mall) Free anonymous HIV testing by appointment, call: 905-433-8901 or Toll-Free: 1-800-314-8533
Unit 38, Lower Level, Pickering Town Centre (near Food Court) Free anonymous HIV testing by appointment, call: 905-420-8781 or Toll-Free: 1-800-314-8533
Anonymous HIV/AIDS Testing Sites Outside of Durham Region
HASSLE FREE CLINIC (TORONTO)
Address: 66 Gerrard Street East - 2nd Floor Toronto, Ontario M5B 1G3 phone: 416-922-0603
Men's Clinic Hours - HIV anonymous testing by appointment only:
4pm - 8pm
10am - 3pm
4pm - 8pm
10 am - 3pm
4pm - 7pm
10am - 2pm
HIV STIGMA IN TORONTO
Watch as Daniel gets tested for HIV in this video produced by Xtra.ca in Toronto. This is the 'Rapid Point of Care' test that is used in Ontario and available at the Sexual Health Clinics in Durham Region. The test show a 'reactive' or 'non-reactive' result - NOT a positive or negative result as stated in the video. A 'reactive' result means there's a 99.9% likelihood that you are HIV positive. 'Non-reactive' means no HIV antibodies were detected, however your clinic may request that you re-test in a few weeks. If you get a 'reactive' result, you will then be tested using the standard test which will take up to two weeks for those results. This is done to confirm the 'reactive' result from the Rapid Point of Care test.
MENTAL HEALTH AND GAY MEN
HOW DOES OUR MENTAL HEALTH AFFECT OUR SEXUAL HEALTH?
Sex not only feels good but it is also good for our health! It can give us more energy, is good exercise, can make us feel great about our bodies, and some studies show that sex actually reduces the risk of a heart attack! Emotionally, sex can boost our moods, relax us, and reduce stress. Sex can also be one way that we explore who we are. Having positive sexual experiences can shake off some of the shame or insecurity we may feel about the things that turn us on. Whether we are having sex with a partner, friend, ourselves, a fuck buddy, or a stranger we just met, sex can also make us feel closer and more connected to people. Research shows that we (gay men) often have higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance use, smoking, partner violence, body image issues and eating disorders, as well as a continued high rate of HIV
infection. That very research also suggests that our environment is really important; that homophobia, trauma, and growing up gay in a hostile environment are bad for our health. These early and ongoing life experiences are one of the key reasons why we experience many of the challenges we do as adults. It is clear when we are dealing with these multiple issues it can be more difficult to maintain good sexual health practices, which then makes it more possible for HIV and other STIs to be picked up or passed on. Feeling down, anxiety, stress, etc can impact:
• Our ability to talk about sex, desire, and risk (comfort)
• Confidence in negotiating the sex we want
• Shame can erode sexual confidence
• Some mental health issues may have an impact on our interest in sex
• Struggling with body image issues may make us feel less confident in bed
• We may hit the "fuck it" button and lose sight of the big picture
• Compulsive about sex
• Looking for validation/affirmation from other guys instead of ourselves
WHY IS HOMOPHOBIA BAD FOR OUR HEALTH?
Hate and discrimination that is based in who we are or how we identify can be very damaging. We cannot change who we are nor should we. Many studies show that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are felt and experienced by sexual minorities in many ways and over a long period of time. These hate-‐based events can make us feel badly about ourselves immediately and sometimes, lateron in life when we least expect it. These experiences impact our self-‐esteem, our self worth, and our confidence.
When we feel badly about ourselves and our bodies we may be more inclined to take risks, make decisions and neglect important parts of our overall health and well being. Even worse, Statistics Canada tells us that hate crimes based on sexual orientation are more likely to involve violence that result in physical injury than hate crimes motivated by other factors. When it comes to talking to doctors about the sex we have, or the substances we use, we don't always tell the whole truth because we fear shame or judgment.
The 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey, for instance, revealed that men who identified as gay or bisexual were nearly twice as likely as men who identified as heterosexual to report an unmet healthcare need in the previous year. This is not surprising given the fact that in urban centres more than 20% of gay and bisexual men do not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation to their family doctors. In rural and northern regions, this number increases to as much as 45%—often due to fear of a breach of confidentiality or discomfort with openly discussing sexuality with their family doctors.
Do you want to build and/or maintain “good” mental health and/or get suggestions for a wide range of strategies on coping with your mental health? Do you currently have some personal disruption in your life? Want to enhance your capacity to build stronger supportive relationships?
Then we invite you to visit OUR AGENDA.COM by clicking the logo above.
OUR AGENDA.COM is brought to you by the Gay Men's Sexual Health Alliance of Ontario (GMSH)