Know Your Risk

Not all sex has the same risk. Your risk of picking up or passing on HIV depends on the kind of sex you have, your HIV status, your partner’s HIV status and condom use. The guys at HIM believe you can have great sex and still reduce your risk by making smart, informed decisions. We’re not going to tell you how to have sex, but we will offer some techniques for reducing the risk associated with the kind of sex you want to have.

Anal Sex + HIV/STI Risk

“I’m a Top”

Some guys think that they cannot get HIV by topping (putting your penis in a guy’s anus). While topping is lower risk than bottoming (putting a penis in your anus), an HIV-positive bottom can still pass on HIV through condomless anal sex, especially if they have been recently infected, have another STI and/or are not on HIV treatment (possibly because he is unaware of having HIV). In these cases, the HIV-positive partner may have a high viral load, making him more infectious. Tops are also at risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea and syphilis.

“I’m a Bottom”

Bottoming (putting a penis in your anus) is a higher risk activity than topping (putting a penis in a guy’s anus). The sensitive cells in the ass are easily torn and very susceptible to the HIV virus and other STI infection. If you are going to bottom with a partner who isn’t wearing a condom, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:

Negotiate that he will not ejaculate inside you; don’t douche just beforehand; use lots of lube, be relaxed and do not force it; find a partner whose HIV status is the same as yours; if he is HIV positive, ask if he is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load.

Learn more about how you can reduce
your HIV and STI risk from anal sex: