I know it is possible to have good sex with a partner who is HIV negative. I did it for years. As I look back, the fear and frenzy about HIV transmission was more manageable back then, more so than now when the mere mention of HIV to potential sex partners causes them to behave in irrational and inconsiderate ways out of fear and hysteria. All of this to say, fear campaigns do not work, they do the opposite of what they were intended for. I can write forever about experiences but I do not want to bore anyone, so here are just a few from recent encounters.
1. I was pleasantly surprised when a man I met claimed he was comfortable with my status and wanted to pursue a relationship. Initially it went well but after a short while he began doing strange things, like checking to see if the condom was on during sex. That got frustrating when he upped the frequency so often that I wanted to scream – FORGET IT! How frustrating to be having sex, getting closer to an orgasm and him stopping the show to check the goddamn condom.
2. I met another man who claimed to be comfortable with my HIV status and after a great romp in the sack he promptly jumped up and washed his dick in the sink with hot soapy water. I don’t think the erection had subsided he was so fast. I walked out and never looked back on that one.
3. I can’t forget another experience with someone I had known for a long time who had not been aware of my HIV status. We decided to get intimate and he was shocked when I disclosed my status before hand. He mentioned how I did not look like I had HIV. I really wish I knew how someone looks who has HIV. He did assure me he was comfortable and well informed about HIV; not to worry. The first time we had sex it was great. The next time he came over his pockets were filled with every brand of condom on the market, dental dams, latex gloves and whatever safe sex paraphernalia he picked up at the university health center.
I checked in with him and asked if he was still feeling comfortable because he sure didn’t appear to be. Being that I had an undetectable viral load and was regularly adhering to my meds, the risk of transmission was extremely close to non-existent and we talk about this. His answer was less than convincing, however, I decided to stop the craziness right then and there. I did not understand how we could have sex comfortably with him caressing me while wearing latex gloves. In the end, I suggested that he purchase an entire body condom, just to be sure. They must be available on EBay. Everything else is these days. This was a particularly sad situation because I lost him as a friend in the process. He left a message on my phone explaining how he could not cope with the fear of contracting HIV.
4. Now back to my HIV negative partner with whom I was in a monogamous relationship. We had the best sex for many years and at no time did he display any signs of being afraid of contracting HIV. He decided, after many discussions, and a visit to my doctor’s office to get the facts, that he was not going to use condoms. We learned that I was an extremely low risk for transmitting the virus and besides, we had been sexually active with no condoms and lots of sex for a year before I learned of my status. When I did get the diagnosis he was tested and the results were negative, as the doctor predicted. I cannot pretend I was completely comfortable with his decision as I strategically placed condoms all over the house and in the car, just in case we were stranded and wanted to have a quickie to pass the time. In the end I had to accept that it was his informed decision to not use condoms and he remains HIV negative today.
I am not encouraging people to have unprotected sex. I am not encouraging people to be reckless. I am encouraging people to use a bit of common sense. It is possible to have sex with a person who is HIV positive and not get infected. Circumstances vary for each couple. Depending on what is negotiated to protect one and other the sex can be great. I know first- hand and I long for the day when I meet someone who has the same understanding and lack of fear that my partner did in those days. Until then it looks like I am going to be having a lot more stories to tell that are less than satisfactory.
(Monologues are independent stories. Opinions are the author’s own). Got a question about HIV transmission and diverse-cordant couples? Ask us below. We also recommend following Shawn & Gwenn, a serodicordant heterosexual couple (Shawn is HIV postive, Gwenn is negative) that have been having great sex for over 13 years. Learn the facts.