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how safe is safe with poz boyfriend??
Oct 13, 2003

My boyfriend of 3 months is positive and I am negative as of last week. We are consistantly using condoms and I do not perform oral sex on him. Still, after sex I have paranoid feelings. Can I touch his precum/semen and infect myself somehow? How much risk is involved? What about broken rubbers? It never happened but could. All these nagging fears are taking a toll on my enjoyment of our sex life.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

You and your boyfriend need to have a serious discussion about sex and risk. We all take risks every day accelerating through that yellow light, walking in a rainstorm holding an umbrella (possible target for lightening), eating your mother-in-law's cooking, etc., etc., etc. We choose what level of risk we are willing to take. We all must do the same thing with sex. What were you comfortable doing with your boyfriend before you found out he was positive and you were negative? Ideally, we should all assume our sex partners are (or could be) HIV-positive, and take the appropriate precautions each and every time. By that logic, our behaviors really shouldn't change, even if one person is found to be positive and the other is not. Right? That's the ideal world. In the real world, now you know he's positive and you're not and suddenly "nagging fears" are hindering sex. Magnetic couples (one poz, one neg) need to decide together what level of risk they are willing to accept, agree to these rituals and limitations, and stick to them. This is called "negotiated risk" or "negotiated safety." You and your boyfriend need to review all the safe sex and risk info found on this site and related links, and then decide what level of risk both you and he are willing to accept, just as you would decide on the risk of going whitewater rafting or bungee jumping or on a date with O.J. Simpson. Others magnetic couples may decide they want to minimize even extremely small risks, so they may use condoms for oral sex. Communication is key. Once you both agree to the level of risk, and both agree to follow your rules each and every time, the "nagging fears" will go away. By the way, your boyfriend could be having "nagging fears" of possibly placing you at risk, just as you are having "nagging fears" about becoming HIV-positive.

What about broken rubbers? Since you know your partner is HIV-positive, if a condom fails and there is significant potential exposure, then PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) would be warranted. Your doctor or your boyfriend's HIV specialist should be able to prescribe this for you. Start it as soon as possible, and no later than 72 hours, for it to have the best chance of working.

Finally, my lover and the center of my universe is HIV-negative (Dr. Steve Natterstad, The Body's expert in the Tratamientos Forum). I am positive. We're celebrating our 10th anniversary on World AIDS Day December 1, 2003. I'm sure we would qualify for an entire documentary on "The Joys of Magnetic Couple Coupling!" (Yes, it would get an NC-17). Hope this helps.

Dr. Bob



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