You deserve to have sex and feel good about it! Testing HIV-positive might mean making changes to how you have sex, but practicing how to disclose and how to protect yourself and your partners from HIV and other STI (sexually transmitted infections) can make things easier.
HIV can be transmitted when…
1. body fluid with high concentration of HIV (semen, blood, vaginal fluid, anal fluid, breast milk)
2. enters another person’s body through an activity (often sexual intercourse or sharing needles)
3. that provides access to the bloodstream (through cells in the vagina, anus and the urethra, or through open cuts and wounds).
Sexually, HIV is most often transmitted through unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse.
Protected or safer sex means using a male or internal (female) condom during vaginal and anal intercourse. Using condoms can stop HIV from being transmitted from one person to another and protect you from other STI (although some can be passed via skin to skin contact). Unprotected sex puts you at risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections (including a possible risk of re-exposure to HIV), which can put more stress on your immune system.
Lubricant (lube) can make using condoms feel better. Use water-based lube, and check the pharmacy: there are all kinds of lubes out there. Don’t use anything that’s oil-based (like hand cream or Vaseline) because condoms can break down with oil.
For oral sex, the risk of HIV transmission is a lot lower, but it’s possible, so you can use condoms for oral sex too. For oral sex on a female partner, cut a condom up the side to make it flat or use dental dams.
Talking with your sex partners about HIV might not be easy, but it’s the law in Canada. If you avoid disclosing your status and have unsafe sex, you could be in legal trouble. If you want support to talk about safer sex, relationships, disclosure or your sexuality in general, contact us.