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Smith backs NZAF's condom message

Tue 6 May 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Jonathan Smith A well-known gay Aucklander is supporting the New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s warning that the risk of HIV transmission not completely ruled out even if a viral load is undetectable. The NZAF has underlined that while the short term risk of passing on HIV if one partner has an undetectable viral load appears to be low as per the recent PARTNER study, the research itself is clear that the degree of risk for anal sex is still uncertain. “Treatments are no way a replacement for condom use,” NZAF Executive Director Shaun Robinson says. “The Partner Study scientists themselves warn that treatments don’t guarantee the safety of having sex without a condom.” Jonathan Smith, who is one half of camp drag duo Buffy and Bimbo, the creator of Queen of the Whole Universe and a former NZAF Chair, says he wants to speak out, through example, to support Robinson’s comments. “I have been living with HIV for over 20 years and my viral load has been undetectable for most of that time specifically the last 10 years due to the advancement in medication,” Smith says. “However, there have been times when a change of medication has been required due to drug failure. “Only last year, two weeks after my October wedding, I had major drug failure that caused my viral load to increase to a dangerous level thus putting my health at risk. This increase was not detected for over a month as I am only required to visit my specialists every six months. “If my husband and I had been using the philosophy that an undetectable viral load means sex without a condom, I would have placed my partner at high risk of infection.” Smith believes it would be irresponsible and unacceptable for any HIV/AIDS organisation to support treatments as a replacement for condom use.      

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 6th May 2014 - 8:45am

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