We The Brave:: Serosorting

Say ‘Sero’ What?

Here are a few HIV and STI combination prevention techniques that you may not know about:

Serosorting, what’s that? 

This is when an HIV-positive guy chooses to have sex with other HIV-positive guys, exclusively.  Some guys find this reduces their anxiety of transmitting HIV to someone who may be HIV-negative. Reinfection is theoretically still possible and something to be considered by those wanting to practice serosorting if a condom is not used. Serosorting does not prevent the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections like syphilis or herpes, so it’s still a good idea to use a condom and water-based lube if you want to protect yourself from those too.

Seropositioning, huh?  This is making use of certain sexual behaviours and positions based on a person’s HIV status to minimise transmission.  An HIV-negative guy is more at risk of HIV transmission if he bottoms (particularly without a condom), than he would be if he topped.  An HIV-positive person could choose to bottom exclusively for his partner if his partner is HIV-negative and he wants to minimise the chances of transmitting the virus to him. Using condoms minimises these chances much more.

Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC). That’s a mouthful!

Men who have been medically circumcised have been found to experience 60% less HIV transmission, but these studies were conducted on predominantly heterosexual men. Being circumcised does not have any affect in HIV transmission if you bottom during anal sex and only if you top.  VMMC also decreases the risk of urinary tract infections; reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases in men; protects against cancer of the penis and prevents inflammation of the glands and foreskin.

PrEP.  Prepped for what? 

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV prevention strategy where HIV-negative guys take medications (a combination of 2 ARVs) daily to prevent from becoming positive if they are exposed to the virus.

PEP. It’s not about back to school specials this time!

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (usually called PEP) is a course of ARVs (antiretroviral tablets used to treat HIV) given to someone who is HIV-negative after he has had a high-risk event of getting HIV. This could be a condom breaking during anal sex, especially if he was the bottom (receptive partner). PEP reduces his risk of becoming infected. PEP should be started ASAP within 72 hours after the risk exposure incident.

Using a combination of the above strategies decreases the chances of HIV transmission, so the more you can use together, the better your safety strategy.

Bruce J. Little is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute.  These are his views, which may or may not be those of Anova and affiliates.