Physical intimacy is essential to all human beings and is very important to our well being. We need to be touched and caressed. HIV+ people are often denied this simple pleasure by others ignorance, or by our own disgust, shame or fear of passing on the HIV virus.
Your sexual needs change over time. Many things influence when and how often you want sexual intimacy e.g. environment, opportunities, sickness, depression, low self-esteem, poor body image, hormone changes and simply where we are in our lives.
Recognising that sex need not stop after am HIV diagnosis, is an important part of facing and adapting to your HIV status. After a period of emotional healing, things will begin to look better. It is important to feel good about yourself and to want physical intimacy. You need to become informed about safer sex and if possible have informed discussions with sexual partners. It will be hard to begin with, but safer sex with or without disclosure is a necessary fact for everybody, whether HIV+ or negative.
We all enjoy sex when we can get it, but more particularly the intimacy that goes with it. But being HIV+ does complicate things a little. It is very important to be honest about one’s HIV status when any penetrative sex is involved and responsibility lies with BOTH partners.
Safer sex includes, kissing, touching, and cuddles. Sucking is a bit of grey area, so be careful and use a condom if in doubt. The HIV virus is not that easy to transmit despite stories to the contrary, it dies almost immediately outside the human body. It is present in all body fluids, but research has shown that the real danger comes from semen and vaginal fluid in penetrative sex. So, precautions must be taken.
At this point, it might be worth mentioning sex between two HIV+ positive people – is it risky? YES!
Is it safe without condoms? Well, the short answer has to be NO!
The decision to abandon condoms is one for BOTH partners to agree on. Whilst there is no definite proof of re-infection, in theory the risk is thought to exist. There is also the possibility of passing on drug resistance. Even if both partners are HIV+, there is of course a host of other infections out there, which if you are already HIV+, might do more damage than they would otherwise. So, the decision is not an easy one. ‘Barebacking’ is the term often used by many gay men who prefer to have penetrative sex without condoms.
Whatever your thoughts on condoms and your decision to use them or not, remember that there is NOT a cure for HIV at present, just good treatment for some. Also, that treatment does not work for everyone!
If you are sexually active, it is very important to get regular health checks at a GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinic. Quite apart from HIV, there a host of viral, bacterial, and fungal infections that can be passed on during sex. If you are already HIV+, contracting any of these additional infections could be serious. So, it is wise to get regular check ups, so if you do catch an STD (sexually transmitted disease) it can be treated promptly. I usually have a check up every six months now, but the period will vary according to how sexually active you are.
If you are at all worried or wish to find out what risky sex might let you in and want to find out more, then check out – “Sex worth talking about”.
I think it is important at this point just to emphasise that people with HIV and AIDS are human beings just like everyone else. We have just been unlucky to contract the virus resulting in a chronic illness which in many ways is no different from many others. Men and women with HIV also have a right and a need for loving relationships along with everyone else. But unfortunately, prejudice still exists in abundance and many men and women with HIV or AIDS still endure needless loneliness.
I am a very romantic person so sex is best expressed in a loving relationship for me. Whatever form relationships take, be they friendships, intimate loving romances or casual physical encounters, they are all involve human beings with feelings and emotions. Respecting the integrity of ourselves and others regardless of sexual orientation, disabilities, race or creed is the only way to further understanding and harmony in this world of ours.
- CondomsDirect.co.uk – Choice of condoms from a UK supplier.
- Condoms.co.uk – Another UK supplier with a wide range.
- Condom Choice – Choice of condoms from a UK supplier.
- MyCondom – UK mail order supplier of male and female condoms and lubricant.
- Rip n Roll – (USA) Supplier of Condoms, Lubes and Gifts.
- Condom Country – (USA) Supplier of Condoms, Books, Humor and Sex Aids.
- Condomania – (USA) Condomania’s World of Safer Sex. America’s first condom store.
- Durex – How they’re made, who invented them and what is coming up!
- The raTrust – Charity that aims to lower STI and HIV infection rates and ending the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
- STI Pictures – Visual Exploration of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Pictures show the harmful signs and symptoms of STI’s. Galleries cover Oral Herpes, Genital Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis.
- British Association for Sexual Health and HIV – Find out the nearest STI clinic to you (with tel numbers).
- Sexually Transmitted Infections – What STI’s are and how to prevent them. Each STI is fully explained with graphic photos.
- Play Safe Every Time (NHS web site) – Worried about sex? Find the answers here.
- Genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics – Find out the nearest to you.