DAISY MILSOM & RACHAEL OSBORNE
Perth health professionals have warned against participating in a thrill-seeking stunt called Sex Roulette which is taking social media by storm.
Originating in Europe, the trend of ‘sex roulette’ is fast becoming a social phenomenon where people partake in organised and unprotected orgies where one undisclosed member is HIV-positive.
One of the immediate risks of sex roulette is to be infected with HIV.
Gemma Crawford, Lecturer and Researcher in Health Promotion at Curtin University, said HIV was a smart virus and could hide itself well.
She said HIV was a manageable condition, but was still something you don’t want to get.
Ms Crawford said although HIV was treatable, society needed to limit its prevelance.
Fundraising and Media Coordinator at the WA AIDS Council, Mark Reid, said HIV-positive people entering into unprotected sexual orgies was not a new phenomenon.
“The risk to transmit the virus is there if people remain undiagnosed and untreated,” he said.
A spokeswoman from Royal Perth Hospital’s Sexual Health Clinic said the Department of Health guidelines required HIV-positive people to disclose their status to their sexual partners.
The National Guidelines for management of people with HIV who place others at risk were developed by the federal government’s Blood Borne and Sexually Transmissible Infections Sub-Committee.
Legislative Provisions, under guideline six state “every individual has a responsibility to prevent themselves and others from becoming infected and preventing further transmission of the virus”.
However, all parties in sex roulette voluntarily enter into the sexual activity, knowing that someone is infected and accepting the risks.
Ms Crawford, who worked for the WA AIDS Council for seven years, said some people don’t cognitively think of the risks at the time.
“Some people can get caught up in the moment and they enjoy that,” she said.
Mr Reid said if HIV was treated, sexual activity with little to no risk of transmission was possible.
He said 90 per cent of people in Australia diagnosed with HIV were currently being treated.
“Treatment medication results in Undetecitable Viral Load which represses the virus within the immune system allowing safe sexual intercourse,” he said.
Victoria Park-based sexologist Annika Knudsen agreed.
“The fact that HIV is now treatable, and people can live normal lives, people are less inclined to take the risk of transmission seriously,” she said.
Ms Crawford, who is completing her PhD, said that although the likelihood of transmitting HIV in Australia was low compared to other sexually transmitted diseases, sex roulette was not a risk worth taking.
Lecturer of Internet Studies at Curtin University, Leanne McRae, said there was no one rule that attracted people to online content, but that sex was a big drawcard.
“Sex and pornography have an attraction to audiences to explore their curiosity on things that aren’t socially sanctioned,” she said.
Ms Crawford said it may be a social media trend but people should not be playing roulette with their health.
She said if you have been exposed to HIV, you should seek urgent medical attention.
Photos by Rachael Osborne