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‘Why should I get tested?’

If you are a man who has sex with men, you could be more at risk of becoming HIV positive. How at risk? In the last five years, two-thirds of HIV transmission in Scotland has occurred in men who have sex with men. On average, men who get HIV through sex with other men don’t get diagnosed for around four years after infection occurs.*

Getting an HIV test regularly – ideally at least every six months – provides peace of mind and helps you stay healthy.

And the earlier HIV is diagnosed, the better the treatment options and the longer your life expectancy. Get tested today.

What’s involved in testing?

*Health Protection Scotland – HIV Infection and AIDS: Quarterly report to 31 March 2011.

Find local HIV services in Scotland

To find your nearest service in Scotland, enter your postcode. You can search either by the first part of your postcode or by your full postcode.

The service finder will look for services within a 100-mile radius.

Risk-o-meter

Some sexual activity can put you more at risk of catching HIV than others. Choose an activity and click the risk-o-meter to see the risk of catching and passing on HIV.

A burst condom is HIGH RISK

A burst condom puts both partners at risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

Reduce the risk of a condom bursting by:

  • making sure it's properly unrolled
  • squeezing the air out of the 'teat' before putting it on
  • using extra lube suitable for use with condoms
  • put water-based lubricant all over the condom and inside the anus, but not inside the condom before anal sex
  • never using oils, oil-based lubricants, or oily foodstuffs during sex.

Find out more about safer condom usage.

Cyber sex is LOW RISK

As there is no physical contact during cyber sex (also called 'virtual sex' or 'online sex') there is no risk of HIV or sexually transmitted infections to either partner.

However, there are other risks:

  • someone may make your sexually explicit posts, pictures, chat or video public
  • your real life relationships could be put in jeopardy if you're 'cybering' with someone other than your regular partner
  • sexual predators could use online information to find you in the real world

Find out more about safer cyber sex.

Anal sex is HIGH RISK

Having unprotected anal sex is a high risk activity for HIV and almost every sexually transmitted infection.

You can reduce the risks during anal sex if you:

  • always use a condom
  • use extra condom-friendly lube
  • never share anal toys without a fresh condom.

Find out more about safer anal sex.

If you've had unprotected anal sex, you should get tested regularly.

Enemas or ‘douches’ are HIGH RISK

Flushing out (douching) your anus with water before sex can irritate the lining so it gets infected more easily. This can increase your risk of getting HIV.

Fisting and fingering is LOW RISK

There’s more risk of getting HIV or STIs if you are penetrated after being fingered because of bleeding inside the anus. Watch out for cuts or rashes on the hand.

The health risks from fisting and fingering can be reduced if you:

  • file finger nails, remove jewellery and use latex gloves with plenty of lube to reduce the risk of tearing the anal lining
  • leave fisting or fingering until after sex, as there’s less chance of bleeding in the anus
  • keep it gentle. It's best to use gloves for rougher stuff.

Group sex is HIGH RISK

Having sex with lots of partners increases the risk of catching HIV or a sexually transmitted infection.

You can reduce the risks if everyone:

  • always uses a condom
  • use condom-friendly lube
  • gets tested regularly
  • never shares toys without a fresh condom.

Find out more about safer group sex.

Masturbation is LOW RISK

When practised between partners, masturbation is a medium risk activity for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, but is a no-risk activity if you do it alone.

If you masturbate by touching or being touched by a partner, you can reduce the risks by:

  • being careful not to spill any semen
  • using plenty of condom-friendly lubrication
  • avoiding touching the eyes, mouth, nose or any broken skin after ejaculation.

Find out more about safer masturbation.

Oral sex is MEDIUM RISK.

Oral sex is low risk for HIV but higher risk for some STIs. It can be lower risk if you use a condom. Receptive oral sex with ejaculation in the mouth (giving oral sex) represents the highest exposure risk, especially if the insertive partner is HIV positive.

Oral anal sex (rimming) is low risk.

The risks from oral sex can be reduced if you:

  • always use a fresh condom
  • avoid oral sex with ejaculation in the mouth
  • avoid oral sex if there are any signs of infection
  • avoid oral sex if the person giving it has any cuts or sores in their mouth.

Find out more about safer oral sex.

Phone sex is LOW RISK

As there is no physical contact during phone sex (also called 'virtual sex' or 'online sex') there is no risk of sexually transmitted infections to either partner.

However, there are other risks:

  • someone may make your sexually explicit chat, pictures or video public
  • your real life relationships could be put in jeopardy if you have phone sex with someone other than your regular partner
  • sexual predators could use information from your sex chat to find you in the real world.

Find out more about safer phone sex.

Rough stuff is HIGH RISK

The rougher the sex, and the longer the session, the more chance condoms will split and your penis or anus will get sore and bleed. This makes it easier for HIV to get into the bloodstream.

A burst condom can also cause a high risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection.

Change condoms every 30 minutes and use plenty of condom-friendly lube during rough sex.

Learn more about using condoms and lube properly.

Sex in public is HIGH RISK

Meeting strangers for sex in public is risky. Unless you know someone’s status, you could catch HIV or sexually transmitted infections. Learn more about how to stay safe.

It is always vital to practise safer sex in order to protect yourself against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

  • always use a condom
  • use condom-friendly lube
  • change the condom after 30 minutes.

There’s also the danger of becoming a victim of crime or being arrested. The common law offence of ‘public indecency’ makes it an offence to engage in ‘indecent conduct’ in a public place or so as to be seen from a public place.

Using sex toys is MEDIUM RISK

Using sex toys is a medium-risk activity for HIV and most sexually transmitted infections if you share them with a partner. There's no risk if you use them alone.

The health risks from using sex toys can be reduced if you:

  • always cover the toy with a fresh condom before use
  • change condoms before swapping toys with a partner
  • use plenty of condom-friendly water-based or silicon-based lube
  • only use well-made toys displaying the European safety CE mark.

Find out more about safer sex toys.

Water sports is LOW RISK

Infectious levels of HIV have never been found in urine, so ‘water sports’ are pretty safe, unless there is a significant amount of blood in your urine that gets into broken skin.

If there is blood in your urine, see a doctor.

Get yourself tested

Watch our guide to taking an HIV test.

Condoms & lube

Find out how to stay healthy and still enjoy your sex life:

Living with HIV

Today’s HIV treatments make it possible to live a longer, healthier life. Learn more about living with HIV, including social, legal and medical issues.