This article was published on March 19th, 2015
If you’re HIV negative, it’s possible to have sex with someone who’s positive. However, too often, guys will pass on a potential hookup, or date, when they find out the person in question is HIV positive. This is due, in large part, to them not understanding HIV, and the ways they can protect themselves.
The first step to dealing with stigma is to learn. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of sleeping with an HIV positive man, then you need to open your mind and figure out how to come to terms with your phobia. Simply saying no isn’t the appropriate way to react, as you could be missing out on a potentially great experience.
If you have someone in mind, and they’ve been open about their status, then talk to them. They are the best way to learn more, and they can help put your mind at ease. Odds are, they’ve had many guys turn them down because of ignorance, so chances are strong that they’ll be willing to tell you whatever you want to know.
Understanding HIV Status
Just because someone is HIV positive, it doesn’t mean you will automatically get HIV if you have a sexual experience with them. Most guys who learn they are HIV positive will go on antiretroviral drugs, to reduce their viral load count, bringing it down to what is called an undetectable level. This means that the viral load count is so low that it’s virtually impossible for them to transmit the virus. HIV undetectable men are extremely safe to sleep with, with almost no risk of them transmitting the virus.
Most new cases of HIV infection between men who sleep with men happen when one person, who is unknowingly HIV positive, called HIV detectable, transmits the virus to a sexual partner. Getting tested frequently and knowing your status is important.
We all know what condoms are, and how to use them. If you don’t, then you really need to do your homework—that’s Sex Education 101. Whether you’re a top, or bottom, wearing a rubber during sex will greatly decrease your chances of contracting STDs, not just HIV—which is what a lot of guys focus on, as though it were the only thing they can catch.
Some guys are so obsessed with catching HIV, and they can’t even remember the last time they’ve been tested. It’s important that you keep on top of your own sexual health, instead of just worrying about what your potential partners have, or don’t have. Before you can ask about their status, make sure that you’re able to answer the same question. If you can’t, then you have no right to ask. You should be getting tested every three months if you are sexually active.
If you’re one of the many that hate using condoms, or if you’re allergic to them, but you love sex, then you should explore PrEP options, like Truvada. It’s a pill that you can take, daily, that will can reduce your risk of contracting HIV by up to 99%. While this isn’t for everyone, it’s worth researching. Only 2% of people report having any side-effects. The best person to speak to about this is your doctor, to see if it’s right for you. In most casts, a doctor can prescribe Truvada to you if they feel it would be beneficial for you.
It’s important to stay educated, talk to your partners, and use a wide-variety of safer-sex tools. Guys who are HIV positive should never be discriminated against. They are also great resources to talk to about HIV, how to protect yourself, and how to have safer sex with someone who is HIV positive. At the minimum, take someone you know who is HIV positive out for a drink and ask some questions; you’ll learn a lot and you’ll make better friends!