Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I test?

You should test as knowing your status enables you to get the best possible health outcomes, knowing you have an infection can help you deal with it, sweeping the problem under the carpet will not solve it but probably make it worse for you and your loved one/s.

Is testing anonymous?

Screening and Testing in Malta for Sexually Acquired Infections (SAI) is FREE of charge and is performed from ANY point within the Public Health Service (Health Centres/GU Clinic). Private health services and some family doctors also offer SAI testing, against payment.

The current tests provided by the Public sector at GU clinic in Mater Dei Hospital require an appointment (call on 00356 21 227 981 for an appointment). Urgent appointments are also accepted.

 

Is testing confidential?

Yes, testing is 100% confidential. refer to our testing page for the full testing procedure.

Can I get HIV from kissing?

It takes an infected person's bodily fluids (not including saliva or sweat) to make contact with your mucous membranes to potentially transmit HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). No cases of HIV transmitted by closed-mouth kissing alone have been reported.

Is HIV a "GAY" disease?

NO, HIV is NOT a Gay disease, ALL of us are at risk of getting HIV from unprotected sex, or through exchange of bodily fluids; example through sharing infected needles (saliva and sweat are not included). HIV does not discriminate on gender or orientation, currently in Malta there are more straight people living with HIV, although in the last couple of years a sharp increase has been recorded in men who have sex with men.     

I'm positive, now what?

Click here to Refer to insights and experiences of a person living with HIV in Malta.

Which is the best form of protection?

We can answer this in A,B,C,P 

 

ABSTINENCE - The best form of protection, no contact = no acquisition however this scenario is unlikely to materialise.

BE FAITHFUL - To your SAI negative partner in a monogamous relationship. However both partners have to remain faithful to avoid possible changes in status.

 

CONDOMS: Are the safest all round method to protect oneself.

 

PrEP: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis prevents HIV infection for non infected persons, PrEP protects only against HIV so it should be used with condoms. 

Are all SAI's curable?

Most of them are, but some are not curable for instance HIV. Although HIV is not curable advances in medicine can manage HIV, people undergoing treatment can become non infective and lead a healthy life.

What is "Viral load"?

Viral load refers to the amount of HIV virus in your blood. Sexual partners are usually infected by virus in sexual fluids, such as semen or vaginal or anal secretions. Unfortunately, the viral load in these fluids can be high even when the viral load in blood is low.

What is "undetectable"?

Undetectable is a status obtained by the majority of HIV positive people who undergo HIV treatment. When undetectable positive people do not transmit the HIV virus. Even if the person is undetectable, It is important that one keeps undergoing regular treatment and checkups to monitor his status.  

What are "raw", "bareback" & "breeding"?

Raw, bareback and breeding are terms used for condom-less (unprotected) sex, they are the equivalent to the Maltese term "laħam ma laħam".

Where can I get tested for free?

You can get tested for free at the Mater Dei GU Clinic located at:

GU Clinic,

Outpatient Department Level 2,

Mater Dei Hospital, Msida.

Call on +356 21 227 981 for an appointment.

Other Private Clinics offer testing but at a charge.

Are Sex Toys Safe?

Sex Toys can be used to enhance sex sessions, use purposely designed sex toys. 

Ideally sex toys should not be shared, if shared they should be thoroughly cleaned. 

Consider using a condom on shared dildos, vibrators, butt plugs etc.

How do I know if I have an SAI?

You can find out if you have an SAI by testing (Call the GU Clinic on 21227918 for free testing). Although you might look and feel healthy it doesn't mean that you are clear, many SAIs do not show any symptoms at first or any symptoms at all.  

Do SAIs show any symptoms?

Unfortunately many SAIs do not show any symptoms at first, many show symptoms at a later stage. Sometimes symptoms manifest when it too late for the best treatment outcomes. That is why one should test regularly.

If I date an HIV positive person do I become positive myself?

No, If your date/partner is aware of his/her status and is undergoing treatment and has attained an undetectable status he/she is not contagious. Most infections are acquired through people who do not know their status. Best prevention one should take all precautions when engaging sex.   

Is it PrEP or PEP?

Both PrEP and PEP exist they are two "medicines" involving  Prophylaxis.

PrEP is PRE-exposure prophylaxis taken by high risk people who are negative and want to prevent an HIV acquisition. This medication should be taken regularly as prescribed.

PEP is a POST-exposure prophylaxis, an emergency medication given within the first 72 hours to people who had ben potentially exposed to HIV (example condom break).  PEP is antiretroviral used to kill the HIV virus. 

Is Prep effective?

PrEP is PRE-exposure prophylaxis taken by high risk people who are negative and want to prevent an HIV acquisition. This medication should be taken regularly as prescribed by the doctor.

Does the state offer treatment for HIV?

Yes, the Public Health offers treatment to HIV positive clients.

Does the state offer treatment for SAIS?

Yes, the Maltese state offers treatment for free at Mater Dei Hospital, the first step is to check your status at the GU Clinic Mater Dei (call on 00356 21 227 981 for an appointment) (locals? what about foreigners?)

Can lesbians contract any SAIs?

Although less vulnerable than MSM, Lesbians are at risk for many of the same SAIs as heterosexual women. Lesbian women can transmit SAIs to each other through skin-to-skin contact, mucosa contact, vaginal fluids, Sharing sex toys and menstrual blood. Most common SAIs in women are Chlamydia, Bacterial Vaginosis, HPV & Genital Herpes. 

Can I get an SAI through oral sex?

Oral sex is considered safer than other sexual intercourses, however that does not mean that oral sex is 100% safe. Small cuts or abrasions in the mouth or penis can cause exchange of bodily fluids, passing on any infections. 

 

TIP: Never floss or brush your teeth before or after oral sex. Flossing or brushing your teeth can irritate your gums or create small cuts that might increase your exposure to an infection. Contrary to popular belief, rushing to clean your mouth after oral sex will increase the chances for contracting an STD.

Getting an SAI in Malta is remote, right?

No, not really, SAI incidences have been increasing rapidly ex: HIV is increasing by 57% a year in MSM. 

Is swallowing cum risky?

Swallowing cum is mostly risky not because of cum swallowing as such, but because of cuts (sometimes invisible in the mouth) or other lacerations. Using a mouthwash before or immediately after oral sex increases risk of transmission as mouthwash kills the protective properties that saliva contains. 

Are sex workers screened for SAIs?

Although sex workers are encouraged to get tested it is impossible to test and monitor ALL sex workers. Regardless of what people do, when they go for testing, they are not judged. 

Are immigrants the ones who have HIV?

One should always take precautions when engaging in "risky" sexual behaviour.      

Can I get HIV through a mosquito bite/sharing a glass/cutlery?

NO this is a myth Only saliva is injected into humans when a mosquito bites and thus HIV positive blood that a mosquito may have previously ingested is never transmitted to other humans. Unlike mosquito borne diseases, HIV is unable to replicate within themosquito's gut and therefore is broken down. Unless you intend to stab an HIV positive person and then stab yourself with the same cutlery you cannot contract HIV. On the other hand Hepatitis can be transmitted by exchange of saliva on drinking glasses, cutlery etc.   

Is it safe to work/live with an HIV positive person?

Yes, unless you are planning to exchange blood or engage in unprotected sex with your colleague during or after office/work hours.  HIV can only be transmitted by blood contamination.

If I first aid to someone can I get an SAI?

SAIs are transmitted through exchange of bodily fluids, always take precautions like using disposable rubber gloves to treat cuts.  

Are fetishes dangerous (can I get an SAI)?

As long as no bodily fluids, mucuses etc are exchanged you are safe. Always know your limits and never accept to do things that you do not feel comfortable doing.   

Is self-testing reliable?

Self testing is as reliable as its manufacturer, source and as long as the test is carried out according to the instructions provided within the kit. always check for a CE mark on the packaging and the test detection period as there always is a time window where the test does not detect the infection/s.  

I would like to get involved in HIV awareness, lobbying and education...

Thank you for your interest kindly send us an email on info@arc.org.mt and we can look into how we can work together.

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