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HIV-positive and playing safe

If you have already been diagnosed as HIV positive it does not have to mean the end of your sexual life. However, there are now a few new things that you may need to consider. Some guys who are HIV positive think that there isn’t any need to use condoms with other positive men, but unprotected sex can expose you to a number of HIV strains that can compromise your health even further.

Being exposed to another form of the HIV virus is called reinfection. Some strains may be resistant to certain ant-retroviral drugs, and if exposed could complicate your current drug treatment. If you are living with HIV, you are also more susceptible to certain sexually transmitted infections as a result of a compromised immune system. This is called co-infection. An STI may affect your current drug treatment, and so getting tested for them regularly is important especially if you are HIV-positive. Treatment for some STIs may be slightly different if you have HIV, so it’s best to speak to your doctor about treatment options if you’re HIV positive.  

After receiving a positive diagnosis, it can be very natural to feel you no longer have need for condoms—especially when having sex with other positive men. While this information isn’t intended to tell you what to do with your life, there are some things you wish to consider.

  • If you are positive and having bareback (unprotected) sex then you are required by law to inform your partner of HIV status regardless of your viral load. If you do not then you can be criminally charged. Why? Because your partner has the right to consent to or decline sex with someone who is HIV positive. Even if you use a condom, you are still required to inform your partner because condoms can break and they have the right to decide to take that risk or not.
  • Don’t make assumptions about who is HIV-positive and who is not. Some guys believe that only negative guys bareback and other guys assume only postive guys do. Always ask first.
  • Remember that HIV manifests differently from one person and place to another (one of the reasons it has been so hard to develop a vaccine), so it is possible re-infect yourself with a strain that is resistant to meds, making it much more difficult to treat your HIV.
  • Some STIs produce greater complications and are harder to treat if you are HIV-positive. For example, syphilis usually takes five to 10 years to affect the brain but if you are HIV+ this can happen in months.
  • Even if your viral load is undetectable, that’s only a measurement of HIV in your blood, and it might be much higher in your precum and cum. Having an STI can increase your viral load. 

 

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