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After all, it is his penis!
Jul 2, 1998

I've been married for 4 years now to a man who is hiv-; I am hiv+. Before we married, I made sure that he understood the implications of my infection on our lives, including our sexual relationship. We went to the health dept, and our physicians for advice and information. In the beginning, he always used condoms. But after a while, there were excuses, and unprotected sex. I felt so horrible for putting him at risk, knowing what that means. So at first, I would say "Get the condoms". I'm the one who buys the condoms. They're in a lovely decorator basket on the nightstand. He just doesn't want to use them. This is affecting our sex life. I close my eyes and try to get in the mood, but all I can see is his mother's face when we have to tell her he's positive. I do love my husband, but I'm tired of bearing all this responsibility myself. I find myself pushing him away and declining sex in an effort to protect us both -me from the agonizing guilt, and him from the virus. What else can I do to get my safe sex life back?.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

This is a very complicated problem, and one that you are unlikely to resolve without professional assistance. I urge you to try and locate a couples counselor who is skilled in working with mixed HIV antibody status couples. Until you do begin counseling, all you can do is to try and talk with your husband and share with him how you feel about his reluctance to take the necessary precautions to protect himself from possible infection. Be gentle, but honest about how it much pain and distress it is causing you. Ask him if he would be willing to talk about this with a skilled professional. If he is reluctant to see a counselor than I fear your marriage is in real jeopardy of foundering.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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