When you have HIV, you often feel like you are marked with a scarlet letter, no matter where you live. While this is definitely a problem that has been around for decades, HIV positive people get to choose how they will perceive themselves. At the end of the day, how you see yourself matters the most.
As long as you can accept who you are, that you have HIV and that it doesn’t change what you have to offer to your potential partners, narrow-mindedness won’t bother you. In this article, we’ll talk about how you can stay sex positive with HIV, as well as what your options are when it comes to your sexual life. We’ll delve a little into the problematics of how to regain and maintain a healthy and positive outlook on sex and why you shouldn’t turn to celibacy just because you are HIV positive.
So, what does it mean to be sex positive? This term is closely connected with feminism, but its philosophy goes much deeper into the human psychology. It is also connected with the societal tendencies to make sex taboo. Being sex positive means having a positive attitude toward any kind of sexual behavior, as long as it is explicitly consensual and safe for both partners. In the civilization trenched in the religious belief that sex is a sin, this philosophy stands for accepting sex as a natural and positive thing, no matter who the participants are.
However, it is very difficult to keep a sex positive attitude when you’re diagnosed with HIV because most people initially react to the news by avoiding sex altogether. Needless to say that this is not a healthy way to process your newly-found situation, not to mention that all the worrying will only make you feel worse. It is fine to take some time for yourself to accept what is happening and to acquaint yourself with what’s ahead of you since living with HIV brings certain changes into your life, as you certainly know by now. Work on being comfortable in your skin, surround yourself with the people who love you and who you can trust and start doing all you can to get back in the game as efficiently as possible, whatever that means for you.
We know that even dating can be very difficult when you’re HIV positive, seeing that you’re faced with coming out of the closet practically every time you meet someone you really like and want to be intimate with. The solution is honesty. Your potential partner has to be aware that you have a health condition that could affect them and you must tell them about your HIV status before you have sex. This is the scary part because you can never tell if the person is going to run for the hills screaming and yes, this is something you will face pretty much all the time until you find that someone special.
This risk and the chance of ending up hurt are inevitable but they will also help you grow as a person. Don’t worry, we’re not going all “new-agey” on you, but it will be much easier for you to accept any and every situation that comes your way if you see it as a life lesson.
If a person can’t handle the fact that you are HIV positive, then they’re not a right fit for you. The sooner you both realize this, the better for both of you. If someone acts like a douchebag, that is the more reason to ignore them. Basically, smile and move on to someone better.
Once you meet someone who is willing to listen to you after the words “I’m HIV positive” come out of your mouth, you know you’ve found a person worth keeping. Maybe they’ll need some time to mull over what you told them, they’ll definitely have some questions for you but having someone mature and loving next to you after everything you went through will make the effort worth it.
Then comes the sex. Now, if you’re dating someone who’s also HIV positive, you won’t have many headscratchers. You still have to use a condom to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STDs. Bear in mind that an STD in your system can worsen your HIV, which is why you need to put safety first and protect both yourself and your partner at all times.
The situation is more complicated when it comes to mixed-status relationships. If you’re dating a person who doesn’t have HIV, there are several precautions you should take. The pressure not to jeopardize the other person in any way can be truly overwhelming, which is why you should approach sex slowly. This is again where sex positivity comes into play. A healthy attitude toward sex – devoid of fear and insecurity – is what will make your relationship flourish.
Naturally, the use of condoms is paramount. Both male and female condoms can be easily found in any pharmacy, so you have no excuse not to use them. There are individuals out there who still choose to have unprotected sex despite the fact that they are HIV positive. Some of them don’t even tell their partners what the situation is. Don’t be one of those people!
Another way to minimize the possibility of infecting your partner with the virus is ART – antiviral therapy. When it comes to this, your consistency and dedication are what counts because the therapy will only be effective if you take it seriously. The advantages of ART are many, the biggest one being that the virus will be much less present in both your blood and your bodily fluids, which means your partner will be much safer.
There are some preventative steps your partner can take as well. One of them is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). There are medications that your HIV negative partner can take in order to significantly lower the possibility of getting the virus. This, combined with ART and condoms, is your partner’s safest option. There is also post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which can be used after your partner was openly exposed to HIV.
When it comes to the act of sex itself, any form of penetration is considered a health risk that can be diminished by the aforementioned preventative measures. Oral sex isn’t completely safe either, so always be sure to wear a condom. Anal sex is pretty risky, so bear that in mind when experimenting in the bedroom.
All things considered, having great sex with HIV isn’t a myth as long as you take all the precautions necessary to protect yourself and your partner. The most important thing here is to keep a (sex) positive attitude toward yourself and your sexual life and everything else will eventually fall into place.