It's impossible to know everything about sex. But learning to talk about sex and navigate HIV helps you take the reins of your sex life and your sexual health. Take a look at these ways to take control of your sex life.
- **Communicate with your partner. It's the sexiest thing you can do. **
It can be pretty scary to talk about sex. You don't want to kill the mood, but you want to know what to expect -- and your partner wants to know what to expect. Ask some questions like: What do you want to do? Where should I finish? Are you on PrEP? These questions can be great transitions into disclosing your HIV status or asking for your partner's status.
- **Choose your best prevention option! **
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a daily prevention pill that is up to 99% effective when taken consistently and correctly. In addition to a condom, PrEP is a great way to prevent HIV transmission. Or, depending on your preferences, it could eliminate the need to fumble around for a condom. If you are HIV-negative, feel free to contact one of these providers about PrEP.
- **Always know your HIV status. **
Get tested as often as you need to. Depending on your sexual activity, it may make sense to get screened monthly, quarterly or yearly. You know your sexual habits best, so seek testing according to your needs. Find a testing site near you at aidschicago.org/testing.
- **If you test positive, become undetectable. **
HIV can't be transmitted if a person living with HIV is undetectable. This means that a doctor can't "detect" HIV in your blood because your HIV medication is doing its job. Someone can become undetectable when on successful HIV medication (a.k.a. antiretroviral treatment). After 6 months of having an undetectable viral load, they have no transmittable HIV virus to pass onto their HIV-negative partners. That's why it's important to get into care right away and stay in care.
- **Don't let stigma shut down your sex life. **
Misconceptions about who lives with HIV or how the virus spreads creates stigma around HIV. There's a lot of misinformation out there. Know how to navigate discussions on HIV by knowing the facts. While conversations around HIV may seem awkward, they are essential in preventing the transmission of the virus. HIV may seem scary, but it is both preventable and manageable, so don't let it shut down your sex life!
Use these tips and grab the reigns of your sex life! Let us know how YOU take control of your sex life! Share your tips and stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These tips come from Beto Soberanis, Project Manager of Salud y Orgullo Mexicano, or SOM. Salud y Orgullo Mexicano is a project dedicated to helping Mexicanos access HIV testing, care and education. SOM relies on peer-to-peer interactions to accomplish its mission of connecting HIV positive Mexicanos to quality HIV testing and care.
[Note from TheBody.com: This article was originally published by AIDS Foundation of Chicago on Sept. 13, 2017. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]