HEALTH

Courtney Act Shares HIV Result, Reminding Us Safe Sex Isn't Taboo

It's something we should all be talking about.

12/01/2017 10:10 AM AEDT | Updated 16/01/2017 10:46 AM AEDT

The moment Australian performer Shane Jenek reads his HIV test results, it's hard to to avoid holding your breath.

Jenek, who is better known as onstage persona Courtney Act, has video blogged what he did after discovering he had unprotected sex with a man who was HIV positive.

The result is a powerful message about why it's important to talk about safe sex, and take charge of your own sexual health, and it's being applauded by AIDS campaigners.

Jenek uploaded the first video in early December where he shared the story.

"Last week I had unprotected sex with somebody who I later found out was HIV positive, which, on my behalf, wasn't a smart decision," Jenek said.

"I should've taken more responsibility and used a condom or other precautions like PrEP, pre exposure prophylaxis, but I did not.

"Thankfully, there is a tool available called PEP, post exposure prophylaxis."

Jenek went to a sexual health clinic where he was tested for HIV and Hepatitus C in a blood test as well as a throat, anal and urine swab testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

What is PrEP and what is PEP

Pre Exposure Prophylaxis is a course of antiretroviral drugs that prevents HIV infections. It's taken daily on an ongoing basis.

Post exposure prophylaxis is taken within 72 hours of a potential exposure. It's a four-week course of anti-HIV drugs.

He videoed himself as he received each result and didn't shy away form sharing a positive reading for rectal chlamydia, which can be treated.

"This is why we still wear condoms, kid," Jenek said in the video.

His HIV result was negative.

"Now it is your turn to go out and be tested," Jenek said.

"We can end HIV in our lifetimes, this is a real actual thing. Go out and get yourself tested."

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations chief executive Darryl O'Donnell told The Huffington Post Australia Jenek's honesty sent the right message.

"I think it's an extraordinary video. It's wonderful to have people who are known in the community to be talking about sexual health and getting tested in such open ways because it sends the right signals to young people.

"These are not issues to be ashamed of. It's something to talk about with friends and families and loved ones."

Who is Courtney Act?

Australians came to know Jenek after he applied for reality talent show Australian Idol in 2003 -- once as himself, and then the next day as ultra-glam party girl Courtney Act.

Act got through to the semi finals and went on to tour and perform worldwide. Act has sold out the Sydney Opera House, sung alongside Conchita Wurst and performed at Lady Gaga's birthday party.

Jenek is currently in LA.

Australia currently is working towards the goal of eliminating HIV by 2020 and O'Donnell said PrEP and PEP were vital in reaching that goal.

"One of the extraordinary things about HIV in 2017 is just how treatable it is. It's still a really big deal to have that diagnosis and something that can be confronting, but it's entirely manageable in 2017.

"The treatments are now quite simple and someone who is diagnosed early can expect to live a long and healthy life."

He said that while PEP was accessible in Australia, PrEP trials were continuing.

"For anyone who believes they have been exposed to HIV, they can go to their GP or sexual health clinic to seek information on PEP. It's taken very soon after exposure, within 72 hours, so the key is to seek advice very, very quickly.

"PrEP is available through a number of trials happening in almost all states and territories. These trials allow people who are at a high risk to commence PrEP. For people outside of those trials, they can also talk to a doctor about getting a script and personally importing it.

"We are still waiting for the approval of PrEP on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and only then will we know that everyone who needs it has access to it.

"The goal of virtually eliminating HIV in Australia by 2020 is absolutely achievable. We have all the access we need to the tools that will end this epidemic."



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