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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

A Killer Sex Drive?

By Brooke Davidoff

February 18, 2011

We had sex; not a big deal. We're married. We're supposed to have sex. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last time.

But he wasn't supposed to get sick the day after. He was throwing up and had a fever that came out of nowhere.

Was it because of me? Is he no longer HIV negative?

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I'm on Bactrim; I'm never sick. I'm afraid what it will look like when I do get sick, since last time I had my numbers done my CD4 count was still under 200.

Aaaahh the new stress that I/we face. Will sleeping with my husband kill him in the long run? I was afraid to even say that's what I thought when he got sick. His mind went to the flu. We both had flu shots in September or October. Whatever it was, our son didn't get it, and neither did I.

Now that I am on meds, is my HIV less infectious? He's been having sex with me for YEARS now and hasn't got it yet. As of when he was tested last almost a year ago. He doesn't like condoms and seems to not even want to bother with them. I don't know how I would handle the guilt if he got it.

From the amount of emails I have got from readers on this website, there are a lot of mixed-status couples who are in the same boat; you are my only sanity! Thank you. Sometimes you make it less horrifying to live like this. A lot of couples are mixed status and have told me they also don't bother with condoms. Some of them have been together a LONG time.

So far, none of my exes I have told have it. Which is nice to know. I haven't passed it along unknowingly. I don't understand who I got it from, or how long I have had it. Another topic altogether.

I think my husband is expecting to one day have it. He initially thought he gave it to me, until his blood work came back.

He is always sick; I never am. Before my diagnosis he always had a cold, a sore throat, the flu.

The last time I was really sick was when I had mono back in the spring of 2007. I've only been sick once after that and that was in the hospital when I had our son in July of 2010. Does my body fight off everything and that's why I'm never sick?

Is there a way to not feel guilty every time my husband is sick?

We have gotten over the fear of touching each other. Not sure if every mixed-status couple goes through this. I'm not sure how you single people do it. I have a hard enough time making a move on my husband who I have known most of my life.

It does take a while to get your sexy back. Having a disease doesn't make you dead already. I joke that I have a killer sex drive; it's so twisted it's almost funny.

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See Also
More First-Person Stories From People in Mixed-Status Couples

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Sandra (Mississippi) Fri., Apr. 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm EDT
I find it kind of reckless that your husband would knowingly have relations with you without protection.Isn't that like playing russian roulette?How do you think your son would feel having two parents sick?
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Comment by: Debbie (Atlanta, GA) Sun., Apr. 3, 2011 at 4:15 pm EDT
Thanks for being so open Brooke. I shared your poem on my Facebook page. Do they have any idea how you contracted HIV ? I know people who are straight and HIV positive - and people have insisted they must be lying, that they must be gay. It's so frustrating for them, and so few people are educated. Thank you for helping others widen their narrow minds.
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Comment by: jennifer (spokane wa) Thu., Mar. 24, 2011 at 2:37 am EDT
me and my exhusband are getting back together i am scarred to death of having sex with my ex who will be my husband i would take every precaution to ensure that he would never catch it so i just found out aweek ago i am positive please any advice would be appreciated
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Comment by: Brooke Davidoff (Seattle ) Tue., Apr. 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm EDT
http://www.babesnetwork.org/

Check here its in Seattle and they have meetings in Everett, not so close to you

Also

http://www.lifelongaidsalliance.org/acap

here. email me if you want to talk to someone.

~ Brooke


Comment by: Anonymous (NJ) Thu., Mar. 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm EDT
If you and your husband are in conflict about condom use, you two might want to seek some couple therapy. You don't want to live with guilt weighed heavily on your conscience for the rest of your life if you infect him. The risk of transmission of the virus from a woman to a man is much lower than the other way around, but not zero. Even if HIV is no longer a death sentence, it is complicated and expensive to treat; it is hard enough for you to deal with as it is, and you do not want to have to cause your hubby to also carry the load. You can also decide to put off having intercourse until you two can settle your differences regarding condom use, or substitute other sexually intimate activities, such as outercourse. Just because you don't have sex all the time doesn't mean you don't love each other. My hubby and I have been married almost 2 years, and we don't have sex as often as we would like because of his nighttime shift hours (he works in a hospital and doesn't come home until almost 1 AM, but we still love each other very much and are thinking about trying for a baby soon.

I hope that you are seeing an experienced, compassionate HIV specialist and are on medications that you can tolerate and have a low risk of lipodystrophy. Follow your gut feelings carefully. If your doctor is not willing to listen to you or address your concerns about treatment and side effects, you may need to fire him or her and get a second opinion. Your quality of life is every bit as important as your lab numbers. My husband had a brother who perished of AIDS in 1995 because he was infected during the earlier portion of the epidemic and could not tolerate any of the treatments that were available to him at that time.

Best of health to you, your husband and your baby.
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Comment by: Pauline (Pretoria) Fri., Mar. 4, 2011 at 11:03 am EST
Hi, my husband is HIV positive..... and we have problems in that his meds make him sleepy at night...his sex drive is almost nil..... I have not got HIV although i go for regular check ups.... we have always used condoms.......our marriage is ok.... but the intimate side is no more ....
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Comment by: HANAG (SAVANNAH) Wed., Mar. 2, 2011 at 1:14 pm EST
MY boyfriend just told me he is HIV positive undetected for six years now and he just started taking medicine since 2009, we were lovers before in 1998-1999, and I have not set my eyes on him till even now, but we have promised to be with each other and he just told me all his worries and how life has been bad to him and he said if I would marry him inspite of anything I said yes, and he told me he had contacted HIV, I still love him very much and want to be with him, but I am soworied about the disease, like I would catch it too, I am very sexually active and he knows,and I want to have a child, it is possible, to have a child unifected with him, he has promised he will always use condom but if i want a child he will have to do without condom. what do i do. I love him very much, but I am so worried now my heart palpate just to know that he has it and one day will start getting sick and die. he said he can live a normal life to a ripe old age. it that true. PLS i want to know I am in love with him.

Thanks HANAG USA
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Comment by: Mom2One (eastcoast) Sat., Mar. 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm EDT
Yes you can! Talk to your doctor and your husband's doctors. There is something called "sperm washing".
Comment by: Magnetic Couple (Va Beach) Tue., Apr. 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm EDT
I married a man who is positive. I am negative its been two years and I love him more than anything. He has been on meds since we met and recently his doctor informed him that at this point we could have a child the natural way with almost NO risk to me or the baby. We have already decided that we dont want kids so that is not an issue but it is also more reassuring in case there are any slip ups with a condom or if we get frisky but not all the way before putting one on. His doctor was nice enough to even tell him that I could perform Oral on him with no issues as well without flavored condoms being used. At this day in age they can live just as healthy and normal of a life as us. I was very worried in the begining as well but the more you learn the better off you will be. Also, there are many many articles discussing a very near cure... Yes Cure! his doctor is one of the best in the nation with this illness and he agrees. Good Luck and if you truly Love him it will be wonderful. I hope this helps. I have been in your shoes.


Comment by: Micha (NYC) Mon., Feb. 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm EST
Excellent post Brooke, Thank you! And yes dating for the single gal does suck!! Killer sex drive :) nice
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Comment by: Rosetta M. (Buffalo, NY) Fri., Feb. 25, 2011 at 8:49 am EST
I can remember one day, standing outside a state building where I was attending some meeting with the health dept., a associate of mine, also positive said, "do you use condoms when you have oral sex?" I was like...nooooooooo....and most positive people don't...that was about 10 years ago...after living with HIV at least 26 yrs and having many friends with HIV or partners of, most do not, have not, used condoms with ALL sex acts...Today most people, especially woman openly talk of their sexual relationships without the use of condoms....and I haven't heard of one case of transmission, including my own, where HIV transmission took place. I'm not saying it doesn't happen...I'm just saying. I am proud of the conversations offered through the therapeutic value of one person with HIV sharing with another. It has allowed us to have these type of conversation without fear of judgment, rejection, disdain or the anger we have experienced with service providers and others...I feel that HIV is more of an emotional issue for most than it is physical, and after all this time, for me, it still is. But I have learned skills to live with it physically, emotionally, and spiritually...don't stop talking about it because the reality is we may always have those feeling of apprehension when engaging in unprotected sex, but we still will and until HIV goes away, the feelings may always remain...keep ur head up and ur hearts open my sistah...stay in the grace!
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Comment by: john (los angeles) Thu., Feb. 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm EST
No offense but your sitch sounds like something out of 1994. Don't be his doctor and let him be. No sex means No sex, maybe never again. I'm just saying, it is common. From my experaince HIV+ and HIV- unions are imbalanced.
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Comment by: Anonymous Mon., Feb. 28, 2011 at 8:53 am EST
are you against inner racial couples too? because you sound like a biggit!


Comment by: Paul (London) Thu., Feb. 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm EST
The main reason for condoms now is to reduce your stress and worry from the thought that he might catch HIV from you. There should be no mandating anything for anyone. Maintaining your viral load to undetectable might reduce a risk to him to as little as one in 20,000 according to the Swiss statement, and as adults you are able to decide the level of risk you are happy with - just as with any other risk in life. I know all the other caveats about viral load in genital compartments not always being the same as blood etc. Other studies with monogamous heterosexual couples haven't seen infections even at slightly higher levels. It doesn't sound great for you for him to be happy to take a risk if you are not also happy with this. Then condoms make sense.
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Comment by: mike w (Baltimore, MD) Thu., Feb. 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm EST
sounds frighteningly familiar.
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Comment by: Mom2One (eastcoast) Sun., Feb. 20, 2011 at 11:26 am EST
You need to "bother" with condoms. It is a must. We use them and have for 14 years (except during a planned pregnancy, which was so planned out it wasn't funny; fertility monitors, ect and my health was pristine so the risk was minimal for us to conceive a child). My VL has been zero for 10+ years but I would never consider sex with hubby w/out a condom. It has become our lifestyle and it is what it is. But it is also SAFE! Please don't think twice to mandate this into your lives. You have a child to raise now Brooke and at worst case he needs to be there if you can't be. I always live my life with this in mind. I'm healthy but for how long? I'm in my 40's so what about heart disease from all these long term toxic meds? Please think of your long term future, your child's long term needs and not just the few minutes of condomless sex.
Good luck guys!
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Dr. Rainer Brandl (Vienna, Austria) Thu., Feb. 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm EST
Mom2One, but you do know that a VL of zero does mean that you are not (!) infectious and sex without (!) condoms is statistically safer in such situations compared to a high viral load and unsing condoms. It's all about risk assessment. And the risk under well monitores ART and low VL, cd4 and freedom of other STDs is comming close to nil!
That is why the swiss statement said that they do not recommend condoms in stable relations of discordant couples in certain situations.
Probably and hopefully you will live a long live with better and better ARVs, less toxic and more efficient, that is where science and research goes with a fast pace!
Best of luck to all of you.
Comment by: Moondreamer (south) Thu., Feb. 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm EST
I'm with you Mom2One.. I also, have kids, two of them. and think the same way, if I'm gone at least their father will be. I remember reading that study. And yes, the risk is minimal but it is still there. And as we all know.. it only takes ONE TIME. I've used condoms for 14 years too.. married for 13.. he is still negative.
Comment by: Mom2One (eastcoast) Sun., Feb. 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm EST
Dr. Rainer Brandl, I do realize that the risk is less than 1% and that is the ONLY reason I decided to have a child. I waited until I could feel that I was not risking my child to be's life before planning a pregnancy. We also conceived naturally based on the risk percentages. But any risk, even .001 is still a risk when it comes to sex and I'd rather be buying lottery tickets than placing undo stress on my marriage and "long-shots" on my daughter's ability to have one parent. It is our way of life and it works for us. My concern with ARV is history of heart disease in my family but my Cholesterol numbers are phenomenal so I keep on trucking. Thanks for participating in the convo!


Comment by: Vincent (Brighton, UK) Sat., Feb. 19, 2011 at 9:36 am EST
Sometimes there are symptoms of a primo-infection (for less than half of the new infected people). Though they don't appear one day after a risk - if the person has been put to a risky situation.

This blog is a good initiative! There are many HIV+/- couples and it is sometimes just a matter of time to get rid of this fear! xx
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Voice of ONE


Brooke Davidoff

Brooke Davidoff

Brooke was diagnosed HIV positive in January 2010 -- two months married and 11 weeks pregnant with her first baby -- and has already begun to educate others about HIV. She lives in Seattle, and her poetry has been featured on TheBody.com. Her son was born on July 15, 2010.


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