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Barebacking HIV+/HIV- couple
Aug 23, 2001

I am in a relationship with a HIV+ man. I am a HIV- man. I have latex allergies and his viral load is none detected. Because of my allergic reaction to latex condoms we have been barebacking each other without cumming inside of each other. I have tried to sort through the recent articles on this practice and the actual risk of HIV infection from exposure to precum. I beleive my risk of becoming HIV+ is incredibly low but I need your expertise. Am I fooling myself with a false sense of security. Also, what are the alternatives to latex condoms.

Response from Mr. Kull

Having unprotected sex with your HIV positive partner without a condom does put you at risk for infection. It is possible to get infected through pre-cum alone, but if you are having unprotected sex with your partner, you probably do decrease your risk by having him pull-out before ejaculation. HOWEVER, this does not make your risk low, or very low, by any means. You are still likely to be exposed to HIV either way.

His viral load being undetectable may decrease your risk for infection, but it is not advisable to base your safe sex practices on that (see my response to "Undetectable-How infectious am I? http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Current/Q57572.qna).

The allergy to latex situation is tricky. Don't assume that you are allergic to latex before you explore all the possibilities. First of all, try using a latex condom that does not contain ANY lubricant on it, and then use a lubricant that does not produce an allergic response (preferably one without nonoxynol-9). The chemicals used on lubricated latex condoms probably contribute to allergic reactions more than the latex does; spermicides have been implicated in studies as increasing the risk of HIV transmission. You also may want to speak with your doctor about the allergic reaction to gain a better understanding of it.

Try polyurethane condoms. They are not made of latex and are a good alternative for those who are experiencing allergic reactions. Again, use a lubricant that does not have a spermicide in it. Polyurethane condoms can also be used with oil-based lubricants without increasing your risk for infection.

Wanting to have unprotected sex is completely understandable, desirable, and pleasurable. It can be difficult, very difficult, to use condoms all of the time with a regular partner. It is important to recognize that difficulty while doing what you can to protect yourself from infection. Try to get support as you guys work through these issues.

RMK



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