Living with HIV means that you have to think carefully about how to best maintain good long term health, and this includes your sexual health.
What this means to you depends upon the type of sex you're having.
For instance, if you have lots of different sex partners then preventing the transmission of HIV to others and minimising the risk of catching an STI could be top of your list. If you are in a relationship then using a strategy such as 'negotiated safety' could be beneficial to you and your partner.
Negotiated safety is a strategy that you can use to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV within a relationship or bringing an STI into a partnership. Many couples have rules about what they can and cannot do outside of the relationship in terms of sex, and negotiated safety is a way of preventing new infections
Such rules may include:
- always using a condom with other sex partners
- only having low risk sex with others
- making sure you're open and honest about any of the risks either of you have taken.
Negotiated safety is a good strategy if you agree to sex outside of the relationship, regardless of whether your partner is HIV negative or positive.
Using drugs or regularly drinking alcohol can lower your inhibitions and make you more likely to take sexual risks. Support groups exist to help you, whatever the reason for your risk-taking.
Being HIV positive doesn't mean that you are immune from other infections. Condoms are the best way to stop yourself being infected with other sexual transmitted infections (STIs) such as Hepatitis C, which can greatly complicate and hinder your treatment. It is also worth bearing in mind that your long-term emotional health is very important, and the peace of mind that safer sex brings can help reinforce this.
If you find safer sex difficult you are not alone - many people have problems with this; but remember that it does not mean your sex life will become boring or predictable.