Common questions about HIV, AIDS, sex, and personal health.
HIV is a virus that causes a chronic infection. In Sweden, the treatment works so well that someone with HIV can live a long and normal life. Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex. An untreated HIV infection is life-threatening in the long run. It is important to get tested if you think you might have been infected so that treatment can be started as early as possible. Treatment initiated at a late stage of HIV infection can cause serious complications.
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the collective name for the condition that occurs when an untreated HIV infection has severely weakened the immune system. Various infections and diseases then become life-threatening. HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. The time from the moment of infection to contracting AIDS varies from person to person. It is usually said that it takes ten years on average for a person with untreated HIV to develop AIDS. During this time, you do not have to feel sick, but can transmit HIV to others if you are not on treatment.
The abbreviation STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. This includes, for example, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, condyloma, and HIV.
The only way to know if you have HIV or not is to take an HIV test. It is important that you get tested if you think you have exposed yourself to an HIV risk. Finding out early if you have HIV provides the opportunity for treatment, which can make you infection-free during sex. Getting tested can also be a way to get rid of all the worry, fear, and anxiety about having HIV, if you don’t have it.
The treatment is so effective that the amount of virus drops to immeasurable levels. Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex.
The risk of HIV being transmitted during pregnancy or childbirth is very low if the mother is treated in good time.
It is too early to say how much the risk of infection is reduced if you share injection tools.
Breastfeeding, blood transfusions, and organ transplants are still considered a risk even if HIV is treated.
An HIV test is a blood sample taken in the armpit or through a finger prick test. A sample taken in the armpit is sent to a laboratory for analysis and you will receive the answer after about a week. A sample taken from the finger, a so-called quick answer HIV test, is analyzed directly in the test room and you get the result after about 20 minutes. At Noaks Ark we offer tests with quick answers. It’s free and you can stay anonymous.
The quick answer HIV test we use reacts to antibodies against HIV, which in the vast majority of people can be detected between three and six weeks after infection. The result is absolutely reliable after eight weeks from the time of risk. (Six weeks if the sample is taken in the armpit.)
Then another test is done to rule out that the test reacted to something else. The test is taken in the crease of the arm and sent to the laboratory. We help you book an appointment with a reception that can perform such a test. In some cases, we can also help with transportation.
If the test shows that you have HIV, it is important that treatment is started as quickly as possible. Untreated HIV is life-threatening in the long run.
In Sweden, HIV treatment works so well that people with HIV can live a long and normal life. Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex.
The risk of transmitting HIV to another person is greatest in the first couple of months after the time when HIV was contracted, and before HIV treatment is initiated. At that point, the amount of virus in the blood and other body fluids is high, while the person who has HIV is still unaware of his or her HIV diagnosis.
Untreated HIV can be transmitted in the following ways:
– in case of unprotected anal and vaginal intercourse with a person who has untreated HIV.
– in case of oral sex with a person who has untreated HIV.
– in case of transfusion of HIV-infected blood.
– through the transfer of infected blood when sharing syringes..
– from an HIV-positive mother to the child during pregnancy, at birth, or in connection with breastfeeding
Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex. There is still an exaggerated fear of how HIV can be transmitted. This fear is usually rooted in ignorance. You can spend time with a person who has untreated HIV without fear of becoming infected.
Untreated HIV is not transmitted by touching, caressing, or kissing, nor through objects such as household items or through food and drinks. It is not transmitted through mosquitoes and other insects either.
-You cannot get HIV if you swim in the same swimming pool with someone who has untreated HIV, use the same toilet, or sit on the same bench in the sauna.
Condoms protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections if they are worn throughout intercourse, i.e. when the penis is inserted into the vagina, mouth, or rectum.
Never share syringes with anyone.
Test yourself if you are unsure and dare to ask the question if your partner has tested him- or herself.
Using a condom is the safest way to protect yourself against untreated HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex.
The U=U campaign is spreading around the world, not least in social media, with a focus on informing about the fact that a person with a well-treated HIV infection cannot transmit HIV to a partner through unprotected sex. Undetectable = Untransmittable means that the person has such a well-functioning treatment that the HIV virus cannot be measured with routine tests.
U=U is one of the most important messages in several decades. There is no risk of getting HIV from a partner who is living with HIV and who has a well-functioning treatment. This applies regardless of how you have sex.
Concerns about HIV infection being transmitted can create problems in relationships. That people living with HIV are subjected to stigmatization, discrimination or are not chosen as a sex partner because of their HIV status is and always has been unjustifiable. But U=U puts an end to this once and for all. Treated HIV is not transmitted through unprotected sex.
Condoms continue to be good protection against various sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. But the condom does not add any additional protection for HIV between someone who has well-treated HIV and someone who does not have HIV.
A preventive medicine to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. PrEP is an HIV preventive measure that means that HIV-negative people take a medicine that reduces the risk of getting HIV during sexual contact.
PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections or against pregnancy. PrEP cannot cure HIV.
If you are considering starting PrEP, it is very important to get an HIV test first. This is to ensure that you are not already a carrier of the virus. If you take PrEP and carry HIV without knowing it, there is a high risk that the virus will develop resistance. The same applies to hepatitis B as PrEP is also effective against this virus.
PrEP must never replace HIV testing.
PEP differs from PrEP and is taken no later than 24 hours after a person has been exposed to HIV.
Safe sex is about protecting yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections. Safe sex can also make sex better.
Anyone who has oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, or who shares sexual fluids with another person is at risk of getting an STI. Safe sex therefore means taking various precautions to protect yourself and your partner from STIs when you have sex.
There are different ways to have safer sex. One of the best ways is to use different types of protection, such as condoms, femidoms (female condoms), or oral patches every time you have vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, or do anything else that involves the exchange of fluids. In addition to protecting yourself from various STIs, you must also protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy. Here are different ways to do it, see section on contraception
Chemsex is a term for the use of substances to enhance sexual experiences. Chemical sex includes both recreational encounters, such as sex parties, and paid experiences between sex workers and their clients.
The unique culture of sexualized drug use has been developed by queer, transgender men and their sex partners. Chemsex is a cultural phenomenon – it’s more than just drugs and sex and it’s unique to gay men.
This phenomenon is often related to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The people who practice chemsex are to a greater extent exposed to various infections and are at the same time more prone to risk. Surveys show that people who practice chemsex have a tendency to forget to protect themselves or take the necessary medications, there is also a risk behavior regarding how well one protects oneself and what the use of drugs looks like. There is a risk of contracting HIV, various STIs, and overdosing.
There are various ways to protect yourself against unwanted pregnancy. The different ways are called contraceptive methods or contraceptives. Condoms and femidom are the only methods that also protect against sexually transmitted diseases, other contraceptives only protect against unwanted pregnancy. You and the person or persons with whom you have sex share the responsibility for protecting yourselves against pregnancy.
There are different types of contraceptives, with and without hormones. The different options available are: birth control pill, vaginal ring, contraceptive patch, intermediate pill and minipill, contraceptive stick, contraceptive syringe, hormonal coil, and copper coil.
Gonorré är en infektion som kan överföras vid sex. Gonorré orsakas av bakterien Neisseria gonorrhoeae, även kallade gonokocker. Bakterien finns i urinrör och slida och ibland även i ändtarm och svalg.
Gonorrhea is an infection that can be transmitted through sex. Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also called gonococci. The bacterium is found in the urethra and vagina and sometimes also in the rectum and throat.
Gonorrhea can be transmitted during unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse, during unprotected oral sex, and can sometimes also be transmitted during petting and rimming (if you lick someone’s rectal opening). In rare cases, the infection can also be transmitted to the eye. A woman can transmit the infection to her child during childbirth, who can then suffer from severe eye inflammation.
Condoms used correctly, meaning the condom is on throughout intercourse and does not break or slip off, greatly reduce the risk of infection.
Symptoms of gonorrhea for men: The first symptom is usually a burning sensation when urinating. Most often, there is also a discharge from the urethra that can be seen in the mouth of the urethra or in the underwear The discharge is scanty, slimy, and thin at first. But quite fast it becomes thick, sticky, yellow-white, and profuse.
Symptoms of gonorrhea for women: the symptoms can be reminiscent of a common urinary tract infection, i.e. it stings or itches when you urinate or you feel like you need to urinate often. There may also be a foul-smelling discharge from the vagina. If the infection is located in the rectum, symptoms for both men and women can range from mild itching to severe pain. Infection in the throat can be completely symptom-free for both sexes, but can also resemble strep throat.
Herpes is a virus that usually appears as blisters around the genitals or mouth. If you have had herpes once, the virus remains in the body for life, but it does not cause symptoms all the time.
How is herpes transmitted?
Herpes virus is mainly found in saliva and the liquid in the blisters that form. Herpes virus is transmitted via direct contact, mucosa to mucosa, mouth to mouth, or mouth to mucosa. You can therefore get oral herpes through kissing and unprotected oral sex. Genital herpes is transmitted through unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse and unprotected oral sex and rimming (licking someone’s anus).
Once the virus has entered the body, it multiplies and spreads via nerve fibers up to nerve nodes at the lumbar spine or the cheek. There the virus will remain for the rest of your life in the form of a latent or “dormant” infection.
How to protect yourself from herpes? Condoms significantly reduce the risk of infection, provided that they are intact and worn throughout intercourse. Good personal hygiene also reduces the risk of spreading infection. If you have symptoms, you should not share cutlery, food or lip balms with others.
What are the symptoms?
Most people who are infected with herpes initially have no symptoms at all. This applies to both oral herpes and genital herpes. The first signs are usually tingling, burning and itching of the skin. After about a day, blisters appear which burst after a day or so and a oozing wound appears. These sores can be very painful. You can get a high fever, headache, and sore, swollen lymph nodes in the groin. Without treatment, it can take several weeks before you are fully recovered and the wounds are healed.
The most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection in Sweden is Chlamydia. The disease does not always cause symptoms which means that many people can be infected without knowing. Chlamydia is one of the more serious STIs. If left untreated, it can lead to sterility, among other things.
What causes the disease chlamydia?
The disease is caused by a bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis. The bacterium is mainly found in the urethra, and for women, also in the vagina. It can sometimes be found in the rectum and in rare cases also in the pharynx.
How is chlamydia transmitted?
Chlamydia can be transmitted during unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse, during unprotected oral sex, and sometimes during petting and rimming (if you lick someone’s rectal opening).
Important to test yourself
Chlamydia can cause serious complications if left untreated, especially for women (see below). It is important that you get tested if you suspect you might have contracted chlamydia. If you have a partner, he or she should get tested as well.
How do you protect yourself against chlamydia?
Condoms significantly reduce the risk of infection, provided that the condom is intact and worn throughout the intercourse.
What symptoms can you get from chlamydia?
More than half of all people who have been infected with chlamydia have no symptoms at all. For that reason, it is important that you always test yourself if you have had unprotected sexual contact. Those who develop symptoms usually have them after one to two weeks. The most common complaint is that it stings or itches when you urinate. This is because the bacteria has caused inflammation in the urethra. Other symptoms for women can be breakthrough bleeding and discharge, pain in the lower abdomen, and pain during intercourse. Men can sometimes have discharge from the urethra and swelling and pain in the scrotum.
Condylomas, or genital warts, are caused by a virus that belongs to the group of human papillomaviruses, HPV. More than 100 different types of human papillomavirus have been described. About 40 of these are so-called genital human papillomaviruses and seek out mucous membranes, especially in the abdomen. Some of the HPV types that exist can cause condylomas, while other HPV types are the cause of cervical cancer.
How is the virus transmitted?
Papillomavirus is transmitted through direct contact. Unprotected intercourse is the most common route of condyloma transmission. The information today is that you are only contagious when there are warts.
How do you protect yourself against condyloma?
Condoms reduce the risk of infection provided that it is intact and remain on throughout the intercourse. But since the condom does not cover all virus-infected genitals, you can still get infected.
There is now a vaccine that protects against both the most common HPV types that can cause condyloma and the most common HPV types that can cause cervical cancer. The vaccine should be given before the sexual debut for maximum effect. Today it is mainly recommended for young girls.
What are the symptoms?
Condylomas generally do not cause any symptoms other than the warts being felt or seen. The appearance of the warts can vary. Sometimes they are skin-colored, small, and lobed. Sometimes they can be flat and difficult to see without a special examination. The incubation period is often several months, but sometimes it can take a year or longer before warts appear.
For men, the warts are normally on the foreskin, glans penis, shaft of the penis, in the opening of the urethra, or in the rectal area. For women, the warts are seen on the labia, in the opening of the urethra, in the opening of the vagina, on the cervix, or around the opening of the rectum. Regardless of where the warts are located, the virus is likely everywhere in the mucous membranes of the genitals and also in the rectum.
Lymphogranuloma venereum – LGV – is caused by a type of Chlamydia trachomatis. It is the same bacteria that causes a chlamydial infection. This type of chlamydia bacterium is more aggressive than the usual one and is more difficult to treat.
How is LGV transmitted?
LGV is transmitted through unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse, during oral sex, and sometimes during petting and rimming (if you lick someone’s rectal opening).
How do you protect yourself against LGV?
Condoms reduce the risk of infection provided that it is intact and remain on throughout the intercourse.
What symptoms can you get?
There can be a long period of incubation, often up to a month or so. The disease begins with the appearance of superficial small sores on the mucous membrane of the genitals or rectum. These sores are painless and usually go unnoticed. Eventually, nearby lymph nodes begin to swell. This swelling can become very severe and is usually very painful.