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Pozitively Healthy: A Gay Man's Guide to Sex and Health in Canada


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You and Him Talking About Sex and HIV

Many gay guys find it difficult to talk openly and honestly about sex. Living with HIV can make it more difficult to talk about sex. And research has found that some men of colour and transmen find it especially difficult to talk about sex and safer sex with guys they have sex with.

Finding Out if He Has HIV Too

When you think about having sex with another guy (or a group of guys), you might ask yourself:

  • Does he have HIV too?
  • Are we going to use condoms if we fuck?

You may find it difficult to ask him about his HIV status or to talk about condoms. It may be easier to avoid those subjects. Or you might just assume that he also has HIV. But unless you talk about it with him, you won't know for sure if he has HIV. And you won't know what he thinks about using condoms.

If you have assumed that he is HIV positive, and it turns out he is not, you could face criminal charges for not disclosing your status. And you could pass on HIV.

Deciding Whether to Tell Him You Have HIV

Deciding whether to tell the guy you have HIV may not be easy. But you might want to disclose your HIV status to a guy you are going to have sex with for reasons like these:

  • You may find out he has HIV too.
  • So he can decide what risks he wants to take.
  • So each of you feels more comfortable about sex.
  • If you're going to start seeing each other after you have sex, better to tell him now rather than later.
  • To protect yourself against possible criminal charges.

When Do You Have a Legal Duty to Tell Him Your HIV Status?

You have a legal right to the privacy of your health information. This includes your HIV status. So you usually get to decide who you tell about your HIV status. But the criminal law limits your legal right to privacy. Here is what the criminal law in Canada says:

  • If there is a significant risk that you will pass on HIV to your sex partner during sex, you have a legal duty to tell your sex partner your HIV status before you have sex.

Even if you use a condom for fucking, you might have a legal duty to tell him your HIV status before you fuck. The criminal law is not clear about this.

It is important to understand that it is a crime to expose someone to a significant risk of HIV infection. So you can be criminally charged and convicted even if your sex partner does not become infected with HIV. For more information about HIV disclosure, sex and the law, read HIV disclosure: a legal guide for gay men in Canada.

Handling "No" While Staying Positive and Proud

Your worth as a person didn't change when you got HIV.

Every guy has heard "no" when they ask another guy for sex, a date or a relationship. And each of us has probably said "no" to a guy. Sometimes guys say "no" to us when they find out we have HIV. That's far from certain, but it happens. So you may need to get some skills to handle the "no" while staying positive and proud. It may help you to think about these things:

  • Your worth as a person didn't change when you got HIV. Some people say they are stronger and better people because of what they have gone through.
  • It is not really about you. His "no" is about him -- what he thinks and feels about HIV.
  • He may be trying to lower his own risk of getting HIV. And that is his choice to make.
  • He may be dealing with other issues and can't handle thinking about HIV right now.
  • Lots of HIV negative guys have sex with, date and love HIV positive guys. If this guy isn't one of them, the next guy could be.
  • You did what you felt you had to do. You told him you were HIV positive. It was probably not an easy thing to do. You respected yourself and you respected him. No one can take that from you.
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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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