How to Have the Safest Sex You Can With HIV

Being diagnosed with HIV doesn’t have to be the end of your sex life. Plenty of men and women continue to have satisfying and safe sex lives even after what sometimes seems like a game changing diagnosis. If you follow just a few, important precautions, you can continue to have a great sex life after that positive HIV test.

Most importantly, tell your partner (or partners) that you have HIV

Informing your partner of your Informing your partner of HIV positive status is the most important thing that you can do. Consent before and during sexual encounters is key, and your partner has to know what exactly they are consenting to so that they can make an informed decision about their own safety (as well as yours). In fact, in some states, not informing a partner that you are HIV positive before you are sexually involved is illegal (sometimes leading to potential jail time). That said, this can be an extremely difficult conversation to have. Speak with your HIV doctor if you have questions on how to start it.

If you are in a monogamous and/or long term relationship, make sure your partner is tested

Taking an HIV test once a year is the usual standard, regardless of whether someone is knowingly sexually involved with an HIV positive person. Every sexually active person should be tested once a year, but this is even more important for anyone sexually involved with someone that is HIV positive. Go with them to help them feel more at ease. It can be especially scary as they are knowingly taking on a slightly increased risk of infection.

Take your medications and consider PrEP for your partner

Even if you are asymptomatic, you should always take your antiviral medication in the hopes that your viral load will one day be undetectable by blood. This makes risk of infection significantly less. Also, people who are at greater risk for HIV infection should work with a doctor to start on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). This daily, oral medication helps reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV.

Always wear a condom during sexual activity

The best way to prevent HIV infection is to wear a condom every time you have intercourse, even if HIV isn’t currently detectable in your blood (according to a recent survey, some people with HIV did not believe this to be true. According to many doctors, it is still possible to transmit HIV with a non-detectable viral load). HIV infection can still be present in genital fluid, both male and female, and able to be passed on to your partner. This should include all type of sexual activity – vaginal, anal and oral. Latex condoms provide the best protection.

Although being diagnosed with HIV can mean major changes in many facets of your life, with a few alterations your sex life can remain just as active as you want it to be. A positive HIV test doesn’t have to be the end of your sex life.

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