Sero-sorting

Knowing your status

Many men try to make fucking without a condom safe from HIV transmission by trying to find a sex partner of the same HIV status.

This is often done by:
  • Asking potential sex partners their HIV status,
  • Guessing from what they look like,
  • Guessing from whether or not they ask to use a condom;
  • Knowing their previous sexual partners;
  • Who they socialise with; or
  • Information they display on online apps etc.

In theory, if two HIV-negative guys fuck without condoms then there is zero risk of transmitting or contracting HIV. However in a recent study, 1 in 10 men incorrectly assumed that they were HIV-negative when they were in fact HIV-positive.

Asking or guessing someone’s status is not a reliable way to reduce or eliminate the risk of getting or passing on HIV during condomless sex.

Isn't condomless sex safe if he tells me he's HIV negative?

If someone tells you they are HIV negative it may not be true, even if they believe it. There are many men around who assume they are HIV-negative because:
  • Their last HIV test result was negative: but how long ago was the test and what have they been doing since? If they've been having condomless sex with other people since their last test they could be HIV positive and not know it. Also, HIV takes up to six weeks to show up in a test, so if you've had condomless sex in the six weeks before the test it's possible to be HIV-positive even if the test comes back negative.
  • They think they would have had an illness if they'd been exposed to HIV. Approximately half the men who get HIV experience flu-like symptoms a couple of weeks after exposure to the virus: but the other half don't experience any symptoms at all and only find out they're HIV-positive if they get a HIV test.

If he doesn't ask to use a condom, does that mean he's positive or negative?

He could be either. Some HIV-negative men think a sex partner is probably also HIV-negative because they would have offered to use a condom if they were HIV-positive (especially if they're going to be the top or insertive partner), but he could be HIV-positive and think that you must be HIV-positive too, because otherwise you'd want to protect yourself from HIV and use condoms.

And what makes you so sure you're HIV-negative?

If you've been fucking with other partners without using condoms then it's possible that you're HIV-positive and not know it, and therefore you could be the one passing the virus onto new sexual partners.

Is there any safe way to have condomless anal sex with a casual or regular partner?

There are safe ways to have condomless anal sex with casual and/or regular partners that provide protection against HIV infection, such as:

However it should be mentioned that none of these provide protection against other STIs. Using condoms and water based lube remains the most reliable method for preventing STI transmission during sex and even then it is still important to have regular sexual health check-ups.

Talk, Test, Test, Trust

An option that is available to people who are HIV-negative in terms of preventing HIV transmission is a process called ‘Talk, Test, Test, Trust'. This process is only suitable with a long-term partner as it takes three months to complete. ‘Talk, Test, Test, Trust' requires both partners to get an HIV test together, to continue using condoms with each other and other partners too if that is agreed upon, for a period of three months and to then get tested together again after that three month period. Only after the second test-results have returned negative can both partners reliably know they are HIV-negative and thus can have condomless sex without any HIV risk being involved. However, this process also requires a high-level of trust and communication between the partners for it to work. Furthermore for this process to be reliable several considerations and conversations need to take place, so to find out more about the ‘Talk, Test, Test, Trust' option check out http://stayingnegative.net.au/hot-topics/relationships