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Negotiating for Condom Use

February 2011

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Safer sex means using protection whenever you have sex. It is important to practice safer sex whether you are HIV+ or HIV-negative. The best form of protection is a latex or polyurethane condom.

Condoms are available in many places -- drug stores, grocery stores, sex shops, community centers, and doctor's offices. Getting a condom is pretty easy, but getting your partner to actually put one on can be tricky! By understanding the importance of condom use for your physical and emotional well-being, learning a little bit about condoms, and planning in advance what to say, you will give yourself a good chance of success when negotiating for condom use with your partner.

Condoms and HIV

Both men and women are at risk for sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, when they have sex without protection. However, HIV is transmitted from men to women much more easily than from women to men.

Women are at greater risk, but there are things that can be done to reduce that risk. This includes using reliable protection every time you have sex (oral, anal, or vaginal). A latex condom is a very effective means of protection. In fact, using a latex condom is 20 times safer than not using a condom.

One night of sex can change the rest of your life -- and the course of your health. So, whether or not you're in love with your partner or want to have sex with him again, using a condom is an important part of taking care of yourself and your health.

Using condoms can also help you:

  • Feel better about yourself
  • Strengthen your relationship
  • Take responsibility for your own health
  • Prevent other STDs
  • Prevent unwanted pregnancies
  • Worry less about getting or giving HIV during sex

Since you can't tell if someone has an STD by looking at them and it is possible for someone to have an STD without even knowing it, it is important to protect yourself.

Safer Sex Is for HIV+ People, Too

Safer sex is an important way to prevent new HIV infections. If you are HIV-negative, make sure to use a condom every time to stay that way. If you are HIV+ and your partner is HIV-negative, you should also use a condom to keep your partner from getting infected.

Did you know that if you and your partner are both HIV+, there are still good reasons to practice safer sex by using condoms? Using protection can prevent you from getting a new STD that can weaken the immune system. Condoms are especially good at preventing infections that are passed on through bodily fluids, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. They also provide some protection against diseases that are spread by skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis and chancroid. All these are potentially serious infections in HIV+ people. (See TWP info sheet on Sexually Transmitted Diseases.)

Even if you are already HIV+, it is possible to get re-infected with another strain of HIV if your partner is infected (and vice versa). This strain may be more aggressive than your own or it could be resistant to the HIV drugs you are taking. Re-infection could cause your drug regimen to stop working and reduce your treatment options later on. Regardless of HIV status, the best way to protect yourself and your partner is to always use condoms.

Some studies have shown that among couples where one person is HIV+, condoms -- if used all the time -- can be up to 98% protective in helping the HIV- partner stay negative.

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This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
See Also
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Ten Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Condom Basics
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