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safe sex with HIV+ partner?
Jul 25, 1996

I recently found out that my best friend, who has recently become more than that is HIV+. He continues to go through the necessary testing and blood cell count/analysis and hasn't been diagnosed with full blown aids yet. My question is "if we are very careful, can we have protected sex?" Would this be a dumb idea to entertain? To what extent could we love each other? could you enlighten me please.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. The decision to have sex with an HIV positive person is always an individual choice. Following safer sex practices (like using latex condoms etc), can greatly reduce your risk of infection when practiced every time, and practiced correctly. However safer sex is not 100% risk free. Safer sex means that you can greatly reduce your risk, but not eliminate your risk. For example, using latex condoms greatly reduces your risk of infection, but latex condoms are not 100% protection. This is because condoms can break, leak, or fall off. But used consistantly and correctly, they greatly reduce your risk of infection. People forget that persons with HIV can still have very active and fulfilling sex lives. But practicing safer sex with them is very important. I personally know of couples where one partner is positive, and the other is negative. They personally decide among themselves what levels of risk they're willing to take. Some will not engage in intercourse but will engage in other activities. Others will have protected intercourse. The ultimate decision rests with both partners themselves. But as long as you diligently practice safer sex everytime, your risk of infection from your partner would be low. When trying to determine what sexual activities are low risk and which ones aren't, keep the following transmission information in mind. In order for HIV to be transmitted, the following conditions must be met:

You must be exposed to pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, blood, or breastmilk. The virus must get directly into your bloodstream through some fresh cut, open sore, abrasion etc. Transmission must go directly from 1 person to the other very quickly..... the virus does not survive more than a few minutes outside the body.

No matter what the circumstances are, if you think about these 3 criteria for transmission, you'll be able to determine whether you're at risk for HIV or not. Sexually speaking, the greatest risks are vaginal and anal intercourse (both partners), and giving another person oral sex. Nobody has ever been infected with HIV by kissing or receiving oral sex (exposure to saliva). But do remember that other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) can be transmitted easier than HIV, so what might be low risk for HIV may be high risk for other STD's.

If you have further questions, please e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at 1-800-842-AIDS.



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