Can you have sex with HIV? | Sex tips

Ester Álvarez Guillén | December 1, 2021
Category: Sexual well-being

Every December 1 commemorates the World AIDS Day to remind us, among other things, that around 38 million people in the world are currently living with HIV[1]. Many of these people suffer stigma and discrimination, this means that prejudices and attitudes towards them affect their emotional well-being and mental health.

Perhaps one of the biggest taboos in relation to this topic is considering the possibility of having an HIV + partner and having sex with them. Because let’s face it: ending stigma means accepting that HIV-positive people also have the right to lead a full emotional and sexual life. And ending prejudices is only possible when we have the information in our hands.

How do people with HIV cope with sex? Is safe sex possible in serodiscordant couples[2]?

Keep reading…

HIV and AIDS are not the same

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects the cells of the human immune system in a way that destroys or damages their function, losing their ability to fight infections and diseases.

On the other hand, AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and consists of the symptoms and infections that are associated with a deficiency of the immune system. That is, it would be a more advanced stage of HIV infection, which is reached only in the case of not receiving treatment.

HIV can be found in body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. It should be remembered that the virus is not transmitted through kisses or caresses.

During sexual intercourse, HIV can be transmitted in penetrative practices, mainly through anal or vaginal penetration. Instead, oral sex is considered a lower-risk sexual activity.

Most new HIV diagnoses are attributed to unprotected sex. Although it is essential to bear in mind that sexual relations with HIV + people are safe in the following cases: if the virus is totally suppressed or has an undetectable viral load due to antiretroviral treatment; if a condom is used; or if other erotic practices other than penetration are carried out.

How does HIV affect sex life?

When someone receives an HIV diagnosis, a series of emotions such as sadness, fear or anger are generated and feelings of guilt are common. For this reason, at first, it is usual that fears, doubts or rejection of sexual relations may arise.

The prospect of having sex can be accompanied by worry and anxiety, especially in relation to the fear of transmitting the virus to the partner.

Faced with all this accumulation of emotions and feelings, it is not surprising that there may be a loss or decreased sex drive.

On the other hand, due to diseases associated with the virus or antiretroviral treatment, it can occur erectile dysfunction in men, due to a lack of testosterone and difficulty reaching orgasm in both men and women.

The experience of sexuality of an HIV-positive person will depend on many factors. With time and acceptance, sexual intercourse may be less spontaneous than before diagnosis, but it can also gain in a variety of erotic practices beyond penetration. In other words, the way of experiencing sexual relations of those who receive an HIV diagnosis can change for different reasons, but it does not mean that they have to be less pleasant. In fact, they can become even more satisfying, opening up a range of pleasure possibilities that were not previously taken into account.

How to approach sexual relations with an HIV + partner?

It is also not easy for those who suddenly find themselves in front of a partner with HIV, especially if they do not have information and a lot of doubts, fears and, consequently, prejudices arise.

It is essential to understand that the desire for contact and intimacy and the expression of affection and tenderness are also part of sexual relations and do not entail any risk of transmission of the virus.

Both the male and female condoms are a good tool to prevent the transmission of HIV. In addition, you need to protect yourself from reinfection with a different strain of the virus.

When it comes to sharing erotic toysAlthough the risk of transmission is lower than with other sexual practices, it is important to bear in mind that they must be used with a condom or washed properly, as they also carry a potential risk.

In short, by taking certain measures and leaving prejudices aside, it is possible that HIV + people can have a full and safe sex life.

[1] According to UNAIDS data.
[2] When one of the members of the couple has HIV and the other does not.

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Can you have sex with HIV? | Sex tips

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