Check out a range of information on how you can be sexually active while protecting your health and that of the people you play with.
It doesn’t matter if you are a top, bottom or both. Staying safe by correctly using condoms and water-based lubricant remains the most effective way to protect yourself against HIV. Together, they’ll stop HIV-infected body fluids (cum or anal mucus of someone who may be HIV-positive) from coming into contact with the mucous membranes in the arse, foreskin, urethra and head of the penis of your partner(s).
Step 1: When your penis is hard, take the condom out of the wrapper carefully using your fingers (not your teeth). Squeeze the air out of the teat on the tip of the condom (if there’s one) and put it over the end of your penis. Don’t stretch it and then pull it over your penis as this’ll make it more likely to break.
Step 2: Roll it down the length of your penis – the further down it goes the less likely it’s to slip off. Put some water-based lubricant over your condom-covered penis. Put plenty of lube around his arse too. Don't put any lube on your penis before you put the condom on, as this can make it slip off.
Step 3: Check the condom occasionally while fucking to ensure it hasn't come off or split. If you fuck for a long time you’ll need to keep applying more lube. When you pull out, hold on to the condom and your penis at the base, so that you don’t leave it behind. Pull out before your dick goes soft.
Reasons why condoms may fail include:
- Not knowing how to put on a condom
- Unrolling the condom before putting it on your penis
- Using oil-based lube including some creams, body lotions or shampoo
- Using lube in the wrong places (i.e., on your penis before putting on the condom or not putting lube up and around his arse)
- Having a long session using the same condom
- Using an expired condom (always check the expiry date on the package)
- Using the wrong size of condoms
Most testing clinics will provide condoms when you go for a HIV test. You can also purchase condoms at any supermarket, pharmacy or convenience store.
Below are some frequently asked questions about STIs. Click on each question to show the answer.
STIs are infections that can be passed on when you have condomless sex, or other close sexual contact with another person.
Many people with STIs don’t have symptoms, so it’s worth getting tested if you think you have put yourself at risk. For a guy, signs and symptoms may include:
- discharge or pus from the tip of the penis or anus;
- pain or a burning feeling when passing urine;
- itchiness, soreness or redness around the penis or under the foreskin;
- blisters, ulcers or warts around the genital area.
But remember, in most cases STIs have no symptoms, so it’s good to get tested regularly just to be on the safe side.
Yes, STIs are extremely common in Ho Chi Minh City, particularly syphilis and gonorrhea.
It’s important to get tested if you think you have put yourself at risk. Many people with STIs don’t have symptoms, so it’s worth getting tested even if you feel healthy. If you think you have an infection, you shouldn’t have sex until you’ve had a check-up.
Click here for testing locations in Ho Chi Minh City.
Most STIs are easy to treat. Treatment for each infection is different. It’s often as simple as taking tablets, applying lotions or perhaps a small injection. It’s important to complete the course of treatment. You should follow any advice given by the doctor about not having sex during treatment. This is to prevent re-infection of the same STI or passing it on to other people.
If you have questions about PrEP or would like to find out more information, click on one of the frequently asked questions below.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and for general information only, if you are considering taking PrEP you must consult a doctor or counsellor for more specific information.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a powerful new HIV prevention strategy where a HIV-negative person can use anti-HIV medications to reduce their risk of becoming infected if they’re exposed to the virus. It’s an additional tool in the HIV prevention toolbox for people to consider.
Watch the video below to learn more about PrEP.
(Video is in Vietnamese)
PrEP is not right fit for everyone but can be useful for many people who are at risk for HIV infection and comfortable with the idea of taking a daily pill to prevent HIV.
If you answer yes to any of the questions below, then PrEP may be one HIV prevention strategy to consider.
- Do you use condoms sometimes or not at all?
- Do you often get STIs?
- Have you taken post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) more than once in the past year?
- Are you in a serodiscordant relationship, where your sexual partner is HIV positive and you are HIV negative?
- Are you in an open relationship or having sex with multiple partners?
- Are you having sex with someone whose HIV status you don’t know?
- Are you having sex with someone from a city or region where there are large numbers of people living with HIV?
We’re not here to be the condom police and dictate your sex life. Answering this question really depends on what you and perhaps your partners want or need that’ll help decide if you “have” to use condoms. Condoms have been and continue to be an effective strategy to reduce HIV risk, but we know that many people are already not using condoms every time they have sex. PrEP is an additional tool to consider for HIV prevention.
Note that PrEP doesn’t protect against STIs, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis. Condoms still remain the best strategy to protect people from HIV and STIs.
No. Many people go in and out of “seasons of risk,” where there are certain times it makes sense to take PrEP and then other times where it doesn’t. For example, if you start taking PrEP because you’re sexually active with multiple partners who you’re unsure of their HIV status, and later you find yourself in a relationship where you and an HIV-negative partner are committed to having sex with only each other, then continuing to take PrEP might not be right for you.
It takes time for PrEP to build up levels in your body that are considered protective. The exact length of time is still being investigated. However, for gay men protective levels should be reached in your anal tissue after seven days of consistently taking your daily PrEP without missing any doses.
It’s challenging to remember to take medication every day, but once you get into a routine, it’s easier. If you happen to forget a dose, don’t freak out. You can take the missed dose when you remember it, as long as it’s the same day. If you routinely take PrEP at night and forget, you can take the pill next day morning with your breakfast. However, it’s important to stick with the same time try to do your best next time when you missed it. You can also talk to your prescriber / doctor or other PrEP users; they may have some helpful tips for you.
Depending on the time you take your dose, people suggest different ideas to help remember. For instance, if you decide to take your dose in the morning or evening perhaps leave your PrEP next to you toothbrush so you remember to take it at the same time as you brush your teeth. Another way people remember is to set a repeated alarm in their phone, reminding them it’s time to take their dose.
If you don’t take it, it won’t work so do whatever you think is best to help you remember. It’ll get easier over time. If you’re struggling to regularly remember, talk to your prescriber / doctor or other PrEP users; they may have some helpful tips for you.
Before you start using PrEP, it’s essential to make sure you’re HIV negative; you run a risk of developing HIV drug resistance if you’re already infected with HIV when you start PrEP. HIV drug resistance means certain medications will no longer keep the virus in check if you’re HIV-positive. For this reason, it’s really important to confirm your HIV-negative status before you start using PrEP.
When you’re using PrEP, you should get tested for HIV every three months to make sure PrEP is the right prevention strategy for you.
For the first few weeks of starting the medication used for PrEP, some people complain about nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and dizziness, with these minor symptoms eventually resolving themselves over time. This is often referred to as "start-up syndrome".
Some people in clinical trials had elevations in blood tests that looked at kidney function. With this particular side effect, there were no physical symptoms, so it’s important to remember that if you take PrEP, you need to get routinely checked by your doctor to make sure your kidneys are working properly.
Some people in studies had a decrease in bone mineral density within the first month. However, but these changes were small, didn’t progress over time, and didn’t increase risk for fracture. Once the medication was stopped, it’s likely the bone mineral density returned to normal.
PrEP will be available in several gay-friendly clinics across Vietnam soon, please follow us on Facebook #TestSGN or visit our website to receive the most update information about PrEP.
Both Vietnamese and foreigners can access PrEP with affordable prices, starting from about 700,000 VND for one month of medicine. An additional cost to cover HIV and STI tests, as well as kidney checkup, may arise along with the purchase of the medication.
If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, PEP may prevent you becoming infected – if you act quickly!
PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) is a course of anti-HIV medications taken over a four-week period that can prevent you becoming infected. However, there’re a range of possible side effects during treatment.
For PEP to work it needs to be started as soon as possible after exposure – and definitely within 72 hours. PEP’s NOT a substitute for safe sex – using condoms and/or taking PrEP daily is always the best method of prevention.
If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, call TestSGN’s clinic partners. You can find their information here. In the clinic, you can find out if you’re eligible for PEP and where you can get it. Generally, you can get PEP at a sexual health clinic or in the accident and emergency sections of most hospitals.
Some simple Do’s and Don'ts of Chem Sex
People love to party. It’s fun and relaxing and often leads to awesome social encounters. But parties can also be a source of risk, especially when drugs and chemicals are introduced. It's something your mom might not totally approve of!
Depending on the drugs you take, they can often lower your inhibitions, increase pleasure and stimulation, and decrease pain or discomfort that can sometimes be experienced during sex (especially if it’s done in a long session). However, it comes with potential hazards in terms of high exposure to HIV and STIs infection as well as the damage to your physical and emotional wellbeing:
TestSGN provides the following insights you should keep in mind if you are engaged in a ChemSex or any drug-taking activities:
1. Do understand that a use of drugs might be penalized under Vietnamese law. Keep in mind how it could ruin your reputation, family and your future if you‘re caught by the police.
2. Play with someone or people you trust as judgment can be dramatically impaired while you’re under influence of drugs. Establish a set of boundaries while you anxd your partner(s) are still sober, particularly about what you are and aren’t prepared to do sexually.
3. Don't play too regularly, to avoid depression, weight-loss and psychological dependence. Sprinkle your sex life with some sober sex, some dating and plenty of non-sexual recreation and intimacy.
4. Don't play too long; paranoia and hallucinations can be common on the second day awake, and they can be frightening, even dangerous sometimes. Go to hospital if you feel unsafe at any time.
5. Don’t share needles, or other injecting equipment. Always ensure that you’re using a new, clean needle.
6. Don't let someone else inject you if you aren't aware of all safer injecting practices; if you’re not sure how to inject drugs safely, speak to someone you know or can trust or look for reliable information online.
7. Get checked for STI's regularly, including HIV and hepatitis C. ChemSex puts you at higher risk for these infections. If you're HIV negative, and concerned about any HIV risks during a ChemSex episode you did in the previous 72 hours, visit TestSGN’s clinic partners to talk about PEP, a medicine which can help protect you from becoming infected if taken within three days of the possible exposure.
8. Be on PrEP, a powerful new HIV prevention strategy where a HIV-negative person can use anti-HIV medications to reduce their risk of becoming infected if exposed to the virus. Taken daily, PrEP can give you up to 92% protection of HIV infection. It’s a great tool when you forget to wear condom during the ChemSex. Learn more about PrEP here.
9. Spend your evenings/weekends/spare time differently – that’ll give you joy without being under influence. Find alternative sporting, social and recreational activities in Ho Chi Minh City that you can do on your own or with your friends.