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My HIV+ boyfriend is really scared of infecting me

Jan 29, 2011

Hi, I am 25 year-old woman and I am in a relationship with a man who is HIV positive. We really love each other and we've been together for 18 months but during that time we've only had sex seven times. He is a great guy and very intelligent and he is handling his own status very well, but when it comes to the possibility of infecting me he is almost paranoid. The fact that the condom broke last time we had sex hasn't helped, in spite of me testing negative three months after. It is almost painful to be so in love and so attracted to each other and have him try so hard to avoid intimacy. HIV is serious and I respect the dangers, but it is clearly possible for us to have a safe sex life. Only he doesn't see it that way. Of the few other people I know who are positive, none of them have this problem. They admit that they lost their sex drive after first being diagnosed but they have gotten over that part of it. I try to be patient and understanding, especially since I know that he is essentially just looking out for me, but it is difficult for me. Yet I know that whatever is going on with him must be a thousand times worse and I just can't help him. I am really just hoping that you can offer some advice and if you do, that sharing it with my boyfriend might help. I am not sure if this is all coming from some kind of guilt that he might be feeling, but he has done nothing wrong. Just please help me be a good girlfriend to him. I love him so much and he is so very good and kind to me, but I miss being close with him. Thank you.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Serodiscordant couples face many stressors including, as you note, concern about infecting one's partner. As with any couples issue, communication is key to creating a healthy alliance where you can work on these concerns as a team. I think you could benefit from couples counseling where these issues could be processed with the goal of finding solutions. Dynamics in serodiscordant relationships have some unique features so I would look for a therapist with experience in this area. You can also find great information in this archived forum from TheBody (look in the archived section for the "mixed status couples" forum). These issues can be overcome - good luck.

Bye, bye Sex Life?
Vaccinations for negative partner in serodiscordant relationship

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