Sex Encyclopedia

It’s like a dictionary… but for fun sex stuff

AIDS (Acute Immunodeficiency Syndrome) 

If HIV goes undiagnosed and/or untreated it can cause damage to the immune system. Without treatment, over time the body is unable to fight off infections. Some of these infections are potentially fatal and, at this stage, the condition becomes known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The terms HIV and AIDS are not interchangeable and can be stigmatising to people living with HIV. Check out this guide to using the right terms from The STIGMA Project

ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy) 

Anti-Retroviral Therapy is the use of a combination of anti-retroviral drugs in an HIV-positive person, used to slow the rate at which HIV makes copies of itself. As well as keeping the HIV-positive person healthy, ART can also prevent onward transmission of the virus by keeping the levels of HIV undetectable.

This is called Treatment as Prevention (or TasP).

 

PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) 

[pre = before exposureexposure to HIV prophylaxis = prevention]

PrEP is a regime of anti-retroviral drugs used by HIV-negative people to prevent them becoming HIV-positive. While condoms provide a physical barrier against HIV, PrEP is a biomedical approach which provides an internal barrier of protection. The drugs used in PrEP stop HIV from making copies of itself, and therefore die off before it can take hold in the body.

 

TasP (Treatment as Prevention) 

[treatment = treatment of HIV as prevention = to stop HIV transmission]

TasP is the most effective tool of HIV prevention we have in the toolbox. By using a combination of HIV medications, many HIV-positive people are able to reduce the copies (amount) of HIV in their blood to undetectable levels. Once and undetectable level of HIV is reached they are unable to transmit the virus.

 

UVL (Undetectable Viral Load)

With appropriate and effective treatment, most HIV-positive people can reduce the amount of HIV in their blood to such low levels that they are unable to transmit the virus. UVL is the most effective method of preventing HIV, surpassing condoms and PrEP.

Someone with an undetectable viral load has not been ‘cured’ of HIV, they remain HIV-positive, but healthy and uninfectious.

You might see UVL written as ‘poz undetectable‘ simply ‘undetectable‘ or [+U]

 

Seroconvert / seroconversion

[sero = blood convert = change]

Someone’s serostatus describes whether they are HIV-positive (poz) or HIV-negative (negative). When an HIV-negative person contracts HIV they seroconvert to become HIV-positive.

The process of seroconversion will likely go completely unnoticed or may appear to be another illness (a simple cold or flu). This is why a regular HIV and STI screening regime is important. There are a few signs that may present in someone becoming newly HIV-positive which you can check out on Ending HIV.

 

Bottom

In man on man action, the receptive partner during anal sex is often referred to as the ‘bottom‘.

The receptive partner is at higher risk for HIV than their ‘top’ counterparts for a number of reasons.

  • The lining of the anus is particularly susceptible to infection, whereas the penis or other external body parts are tougher.
  • If the top ejaculates (cums) inside the bottom, the risk of HIV is greater still.
  • Historically the bottom may also have a lesser role in condom negotiation than the top, who wears the condom.

If you’re a bottom who doesn’t always use condoms and you want to take more control of your sexual health, PrEP might be for you.

 

Top

In man on man action, the insertive partner during anal sex is often referred to as the ‘top‘.

The insertive partner is at lower risk for HIV than their ‘bottom counterparts, but both tops and bottoms can get HIV. What do tops need to consider?

  • The penis is less susceptible to HIV infection than the lining of the anus.
  • Uncircumcised guys are at higher risk than cut/circumcised guys. Whether the top cums inside or not does not appear to increase or decrease infectivity.
  • Historically the top can sometimes to play a more active or assertive role in condom negotiation.
  • There is a myth that tops are not at risk – but tops and bottoms are both at risk.

If you’re a top who doesn’t always use condoms and you want to take more control of your sexual health, PrEP might be for you.

 

Versatile

In man on man action, the guy who wants to ut it in, and have it in him is ‘versatile‘ or ‘vers‘.

The receptive partner is at higher risk for HIV than their ‘top’ counterparts for a number of reasons – so vers guys need to be aware of all the risks of the top and the bottom.

If you’re a bottom who doesn’t always use condoms and you want to take more control of your sexual health, PrEP might be for you.

Regardless of your role it’s important to keep up your regular HIV and STI screening.

 

Truvada

Truvada is a powerful anti-retroviral medication made up of two drugs(tenofovir and emtricitabine) with a number of uses in HIV treatment and prevention.

PEP: Truvada, often used in combination with a third drug, is used as PEP. When taken within 72 hours of exposure to HIV it can prevent the person becoming HIV-positive.

Treatment: Some HIV-positive people use Truvada as the backbone of their treatment regime, but not everyone. There are many effective combinations of HIV medications. However, Truvada is the only drug we know to be effective at preventing HIV.

PrEP: Truvada is the drug used by people on PrEP as a daily oral medication to prevent HIV infection.

 

 

Serosorting

Choosing your sexual partners based on their HIV status is called serosorting.

Before anti-retroviral medications became powerful enough to reduce an HIV-positive persons viral load to undetectable levels, some HIV-positive people would chose to fuck other HIV-positive people so that they could enjoy the sex they like – without fear of transmitting the virus.

In the same vein, by only fucking other negative partners, some HIV-negative people felt they could enjoy the sex they liked risk free. This poses problems, as an HIV-negative person is only negative as of their last negative HIV test result. For some people this can be a while back, and may have become HIV-positive in the meantime.

With such powerful HIV prevention tools as TasP and PrEP – condomless sex need not be demonised and there is no need separate our sexual partners out. Fuck freely, and fuck safely.

 

Cabotegravir 

Cabotegravir is another drug being investigated as an alternative PrEP drug. Cabotegravir is different to Descovy and Truvada in that it is one drug that doesn’t need the one-two punch ‘boost‘ that the other medications need.

Currently studies of long-acting injectable as well as oral Cabotegravir are being undertaken. You can learn more about Cabotegravir here.

Even though Cabotegravir sounds an exciting prospect for use as PrEP, we do not recommend taking Cabotegravir as PrEP until we know more.

 

Descovy

Descovy is an HIV treatment medication similar to Truvada, in fact some people refer to it as Truvada 2.0. Like Truvada it is made up of both tenofovir and emtricitabine, but the tenofivir in Descovy is tweaked slightly. It is just as effective for HIV prevention and is a bit kinder to the kidneys than it’s Truvada sibling.

Because the two are so similar, Descovy is being trialled for use as PrEP currently by manufacturer Gilead. Even though Descovy is effective as an HIV treatment, we do not recommend taking Descovy as PrEP until we know more.

 

PBAC (Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee) 

The PBAC is an independent review panel responsible for overseeing the approval (or not) of medications which have been submitted for listing on the PBS. The PBAC meet several times a year to review applications.

 

Generic Medication

If you’ve ever had a prescription medication you’ve picked up from the pharmacy, the chemist has probably asked you if you’d like the brand name or generic version. Depending on your wallet and discerning nature you could buy either one, and they would do exactly the same thing. Sometimes the packaging is different, or the medication might be a different shape or colour – but they will be like a cushion vs a pillow… much of a muchness really.

Generics are often much cheaper, as the generic manufacturer hasn’t had to do all the loops and flips to get their medication approved. Generics hit the market later than their brand name cousin once the patent run out on the brand name version.

 

Generic Truvada / Generic PrEP 

If you have ordered your PrEP from an online pharmacy, you might already be familiar with generic Truvada.

Gilead is the manufacturer of brand name Truvada, however other companies can make medication with the same drugs (tenofovir and emtricitabine) for a lot cheaper. Some of the drugs you may see are:

  • Ricovir-EM – Mylan Pharma
  • Tenvir-EM – Cipla Pharmaceuticals
  • Adco Emtevir – AL Pham

All three are just as effective as brand name Truvada and cost far less. All the suppliers we recommend on PAN sell generic Truvada.

 

PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme)

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme lists all of the medicines available to be dispensed to patients at a Government-subsidised price. The PBS is managed by the Department of Health. The medications listed on the PBS Schedule are overseen by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. Each medication must be submitted for review, and drugs are either approved or denied based on a complex range of criteria.

A medication being unlisted on the PBS does not make the medication any less safe, or effective – merely less affordable.

In 2016 Gilead submitted an application to have Truvada listed on the PBS which was denied. If Truvada becomes listed in the future, Medicare card holders will have subsidised country wide access to PrEP.

 

PBAC (Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee) 

The PBAC is an independent review panel responsible for overseeing the approval (or not) of medications which have been submitted for listing on the PBS. The PBAC meet several times a year to review applications.

 

TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration)

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is part of the Australian Government Department of Health and is responsible for regulating therapeutic goods including prescription medicines like HIV treatment and prevention medications.

Having a medication TGA listed is an acknowledgment by the government that the medication works, is safe, and is recommended for it’s intended purpose. Truvada was listed on the TGAs register in mid-2016.

 

Strategic positioning

Strategic positioning a safer sex practice used by some people, coordinating the roles of HIV-negative and HIV-positive sex partners based on their perceived or actual risk of HIV transmission.

Generally, this involved the HIV-positive partner being the ‘bottom’ and theHIV-negative partner being the ‘top’

It is more difficult for a top to become HIV-positive than for the bottom, especially if the top is circumcised. Without the use of condoms or biomedical prevention (TasP and PrEP) strategic positioning is not an effective prevention tool.

If you are on PrEP or TasP you can fuck in any position you like and be protected from HIV.