I am terrified I could poison him

Question

I was diagnosed a year ago with an AIDS defining illness. My blood counts have now significantly improved. My partner and I have been together in a monogomous relationship for over 10 years and we only knew I was HIV+ when diagnosed last year. He has been wonderfully supportive: we had our Civil Partnership ceremony in June, although I had serious doubts about committing him to it at this time. I know he loves me deeply as I do him and I could not have got through this last year without him. However, our sex life has stopped. I have this image that I could poison him by engaging in any kind of sexual activity. We still kiss and cuddle and he tells me he is happy with that, but I feel guilty and saddened that I cannot give him more, but am terrified of infecting him. I find it difficult to think of a long term future for our "marriage" without sex, but likewise it would crucify me to think that I could infect him. Rationally, logically, of course I know about safe sex. But emotionally, physically, I just can't do it. Please help me.

Answer

First off, you need to know that you are not alone with these kind of feelings. It is not unusual to have these emotional feelings even though you may know in your head that there is such a thing as protected and safe sex. However, it is not the norm to be so fearful that you are unable to move into having more sexual contact with the person you love in spite of HIV. How does your partner feel about this and does he experience the same intense fear that you have? If so, I think you both need to read a lot more information about all of the safe things you are able to do together and it would probably be helpful to talk with an HIV counselor who also has experience with couple issues and/or to talk with other mixed status couples to see how they are handling these things. If all of the fear is on your side, I suggest you seek your own counseling about this.

Get more information (on this website and through other venues, talk more with each other about all of this, and seek some kind of professional counseling. HIV is no reason to not have a fuller, more comfortable, and satisfying sex life with each other.