So you met a terrific HIV-positive person and you really hit it off, but you, as being HIV-negative, are somewhat worried about the sexual aspect of the relationship? Or, what if you’re HIV-positive with an HIV-negative partner, you have come clean about your status and you’re terrified about passing the virus to him or her? It’s completely understandable.
Dating HIV positive people can really complicate things in bed, since one or both partners may feel unable to let go of the fears and preoccupations regarding the transmission of the virus. This can affect your sex life because sex is supposed to be fun and relaxing. HIV is a constant presence in the life of partners with mixed statuses (also called serodiscordant couples), but that presence can definitely be minimized, and here’s how to it.
Talk About It
Too much talk about sex may ruin things and make it awkward, but with such a big elephant in the room as HIV, there’s no other way to go about it. You and your partner simply have to have that conversation, if you want to be able to fully enjoy your sex life. You need to talk about what worries you and how to stay safe, of course, but you also need to talk about “general” sexy stuff, things that other couples talk about as well – what you’re into sexually, what your partner is into, what you dislike and what you definitely want to avoid. That way you will form a deep, solid bond between the two of you and everything else will come easier after that.
It’s absolutely vital to be aware of every little piece of information regarding HIV and the routes of transmission. Ideally, the information should come from a physician specialized in HIV/AIDS, a relevant support group or a HIV/AIDS organization. There are many online sources, various HIV positive websites you can consult but bear in mind that you should only look for information from trustworthy sources. Never stop learning about the virus and about how to stay safe while dating HIV positive persons, read and listen a lot and find out exactly what kind of protection you and your partner should be using. In general, it’s recommended that the HIV-positive partner should stay on his or her antiretroviral therapy and you should always, always use a condom.
You should also understand that not all sexual activity is equally risky. For example, anal sex comes with the highest risk of exposure, especially for the “bottom” partner. Vaginal sex is also very risky, but somewhat less than anal sex, and oral sex is considered to be the least risky, although it can also be a route of transmission of the virus. Activities such as masturbation, rubbing, touching, massage, dry kissing and using sex toys you don’t share are activities where no bodily fluids are exchanged and are therefore considered risk-free.
No one really likes condoms, but we all have to use them if we want to stay healthy and disease-free. This is something that should apply to everyone, not just mixed status couples, but these couples need to be particularly serious about it. HIV is no joke and once you get it, there’s no going back. You can’t just use condoms “most of the time” – you have to use them all the time, in any sort of sexual situation, and you have to use them correctly. This includes oral sex. You can get the virus from just one single exposure instance, that’s all it takes.
Learn about Prophylaxis
There are different medications that the HIV-negative partner can use to reduce the risk of infection. Two basic types are pre-exposure (PrEP) and post-exposure (PEP) medications. HIV-negative persons in a sexual relationship with an HIV-positive person are generally encouraged to take PrEP on regular basis, get tested regularly and see a doctor every three months.
In case you suspect exposure to the virus from your partner (for example, if the condom breaks), you can take PEP, which will reduce your chance of actually getting infected. This anti-HIV drug must be taken within 3 days after the exposure, for a month.
Feel Free to Say “No”
It’s very simple – whether you’re HIV-positive or negative, if you don’t feel like engaging in a particular sexual activity, just say no. Don’t do it just because your partner wants to do it. Don’t do it out of the obligation or pity. You won’t be doing anyone any favors and you will definitely not enjoy it. Your mixed status sexual relationship needs to be based on absolute trust, otherwise it will never work.
HIV dating and sex can be tough but it can also be so rewarding. With these simple tips, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be enjoying your mixed status sexual relationship.