My Sex Life: Info for Young Poz People
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:
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:
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.
"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 Iï¿½m 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.
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:
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
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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