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My Sex Life: Info for Young Poz People

March 2013

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Other Prevention Strategies if Condoms Aren't Right for Us

Condoms are the best way to avoid HIV transmission to others, or reinfection with a different strain of HIV. People who decide to have condomless sex should consider these risk-reduction strategies:

  • Less risky forms of sex: Anal sex has the highest risk of HIV transmission. We're not exactly sure what the risk is with frontal sex because no one has done the research, but it's probably similar to vaginal sex. It may actually be more risky than vaginal sex if you have recently had surgery and it hasn't fully healed yet. Oral sex is the least risky. And of course sex that doesn't involve penetration is safe, too. Let your imagination run wild!
  • Undetectable viral load: Viral load is a measure of how much virus is in our blood. Keeping our viral load undetectable, or really low, is an important way to stay healthy. Taking our anti-HIV meds as prescribed, getting regular viral load blood tests, and getting our regular STI checkups help to make sure that our viral load is as low as possible. As an added bonus, an undetectable viral load appears to reduce HIV transmission during sex.
  • Sero-sorting: Sero-sorting is having sex with someone with the same HIV status as ours. Some of us decide that we don't want to worry about transmitting HIV to a negative partner, so we choose to only have sex with other people living with HIV. Some of us decide to only have sex with other people living with HIV who have undetectable viral loads. If we decide to sero-sort, it's always a good idea to ask our partner's status to be sure. Two things to think about: sero-sorting doesn't reduce the risk of passing other STIs, and although it doesn't happen often, it's possible for people living with HIV to pass their strain of HIV to their partners.
  • Strategic positioning: This strategy usually applies to guys who have sex with guys with a penis, or trans dudes who have had bottom surgery. Strategic positioning means assuming the insertive or receptive position for anal sex based on our or our partner's HIV status. We are less likely to pass HIV to an HIV-negative partner if we take the receptive role (bottom or passive) during anal sex.
  • Mix and match: We might choose to use some of these strategies with one person and other strategies with other people. We might use different ones at different times. We might even combine more than one to reduce the risk of transmission. We should get as much information as we can about these strategies so that we can make an informed and responsible choice each time we have sex.


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Staying Hot, Wet and Hard!

Some meds and recreational drugs (including alcohol) can affect our sex drive (libido) and our ability to stay in the mood (staying wet or hard). Don't be shy about talking to your healthcare provider about the potential sexual side effects of your meds. Lots of people are dealing with this!

Tips for getting and staying in the mood:

  • Watch porn together, if you're both into that.
  • Give each other massages. You never know where it might lead!
  • Prolong foreplay or use oral sex to arouse yourself and your partner before doing it.
  • Be as relaxed and stress-free as possible.
  • Use lots of lube.
  • A cock ring or cock sling can help you keep your hard-on. Ask at your local sex shop. They come in a variety of styles and materials.

Having trouble using condoms and you've tried our tips above? Before giving up on condoms, you might want to talk to your healthcare provider about erection enhancers.


Tip!

Best to get a prescription for the real thing. Drugs sold on the street or over the internet may be ineffective, or worse contaminated.


The Big "D" ... Disclosure

"Telling my best friend I was HIV positive was hard, but now three years later, it's easier to disclose."

Telling people we care about that we are HIV positive can be overwhelming and scary. HIV carries a lot of stigma, and telling someone may not always be right for us. It may not even be safe. Other times, telling someone can make things easier. We have to figure out when the right time is for us and who we want to tell.

Some of us take the first step and disclose to a close friend who will be supportive. Others get connected with local or regional AIDS service organizations, or other agencies that serve young people. Some of us join peer support groups for youth living with HIV that make us feel less alone and where we can learn from the experience of others. It'll be different for different people, so make the choice that's right for you.

"Thinking about telling people I�m HIV-positive was stressing me out big time. My support group, PYO, helped me because I could talk it out with others in the same situation."


Disclosure and Sex

Disclosing our status and having hot sex builds confidence and self-esteem. Being stressed about possibly infecting someone with HIV during sex can be a total turnoff. Worrying about giving HIV to our partners can impact our sexual pleasure, whether our partners know our HIV status or not. A way around that can be telling our partner we're living with HIV, so that we aren't worried about this stuff so much.

When we disclose, even if we feel better for having been upfront and responsible, we might get rejected. It's hard to have someone tell us that they don't want to be with us because of our HIV status, or to feel that's why, even if they don't say it directly. Having HIV may make us feel unsexy or unwanted by others. Don't be discouraged. It's not okay for anyone to make us feel down about ourselves for having HIV.


Sex should be a source of fun, pleasure and connection in whatever flavor we choose to express it. There are many people out there who are comfortable with HIV. There are also other people living with HIV who are looking to chat, meet, go on a date, or have hot sex!


HIV and the Law

We couldn't write about disclosure without talking about the potential for criminal prosecution of HIV non-disclosure. This means that we can be criminally charged with HIV nondisclosure if we don't disclose our HIV status to our sex partners before sex.

The lowdown is this: In Canada, if we have HIV, we have a legal duty to tell our sex partner before having any kind of sex that poses a "realistic possibility" of transmitting HIV.


What Does This Mean?

Based on the law at this writing, we do have a legal duty to disclose our HIV status:

  • Before having vaginal, frontal or anal sex without a condom, regardless of our viral load; or
  • Before having vaginal, frontal or anal sex when our viral load is not low, even if we use a condom.
  • We do not have to disclose before having vaginal or frontal sex if our viral load is low or undetectable and we use a condom. It is not clear whether this also applies to anal sex.
  • It is also not clear how the law applies to oral sex (with or without a condom).

You may not like what the law says and you may not agree with it. But it's still the law and the consequences can be severe. People with HIV have been convicted of serious crimes for not telling their sex partners they have HIV.

We hope the law evolves in a direction that is less stigmatizing for people living with HIV. We want to be able to protect ourselves and still have hot consensual sex.

The best advice we can give is this: know your rights and responsibilities so that you can make more informed decisions about your life and your sex life.

For current or complete information on HIV and the law, please contact:

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
416.595.1666
www.aidslaw.ca

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This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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More Info on Young People and HIV

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