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Vaginal sex w/ + boyfriend
Jan 29, 2011

I have been searching through your archieves and I was unable to find anything regarding my specific situation, but if I missed it, I apologize. I am a woman and I am in a relationship with an HIV+ man. He has been very afraid of infecting me so we've only had sex a few times, but one of the times the condom broke and that upset him even more, although I tested negative outside of the window period. I am allergic to latex and I understand that non-latex condoms are more likely to break, but if he uses latex condoms it causes a lot of irritation and it will usually cause my skin to break, but it is only a skin irritation. Since the latex doesn't cause me to have breathing problems or anything like that would it be safer to use latex or does the fact that it causes tears make it more risky than non-latex? I am willing to deal with the skin irritation since my boyfriend is currently too afraid to have sex at all; the condom failure has made him even more paranoid than before. I was just hoping that you might be able to tell me what would be safer, and maybe also how risky our intimacy is in general. I know my boyfriend visits this site and I believe that he would respect and value your advice, as would I. He has a viral load of zero, if that is relevant to the situation.

Also, my boyfriend's doctor explained to us both that by using condoms for vaginal sex as well as oral the chances of him infecting me would be very slim, but my he is just too scared. He is on me to get tested again, but after the negative test at 3 months I think it is okay to wait for the six months test. Personally I don't see the point since testing every week wouldn't change the outcome one bit, but do you think it is necessary or can I wait?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Condoms, latex or non-latex, very seldom break when used properly. (Proper use includes the liberal use of condom-compatible lubricants.)

I would advise against using latex condoms if you are allergic to latex, as the allergic reaction could (and usually does) get worse with repeated exposures.

One option would be for your partner to use a latex condom and then a second non-latex condom over the top. This may well decrease sensitivity, but if it provides your boyfriend with the confidence and reassurance he needs to do the horizontal mattress-mambo more frequently, it's certainly worth a try.

There have been reports of friction resulting from rubbing latex on latex while double-bagging two latex condoms. This has been reported to increase the risk of condom failure. This is not a problem when using condoms made from different materials. I don't mention double-bagging often in the forum, as there are no reliable medical studies suggesting that double-bagging (even with two condoms made from different materials) is any safer than a single properly used condom. However, in the unique case of latex allergy, double-bagging using two different types of condoms is a viable option to prevent allergic reactions.

Continue talking to your boyfriend's doctor regarding his fears about being intimate. Counseling may help.

Regarding your HIV testing, I agree with you. Testing at the three- and six-month marks is all that's warranted. Weekly testing is not warranted or advisable.

Both you and your positively charged Mr. Right should read through the chapter in the archives of the forum devoted to magnetic couples. You may wish to consider some of the harm-reduction strategies discussed there.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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