How to be Safe and Sexy on Valentine's Day

VALENTINES SAFETY

For people living with HIV and their partners, a looming question they need to answer is whether or not they can ever have safe sex. With Valentine's Day approaching and romance in the air, it's time to set the record straight.

HIV is a sexually transmitted disease and it's natural to wonder whether it's safe for someone with HIV to have sex. For anyone living with HIV (and those not living with HIV), there are times when sex is not safe. Still, in general, if you feel you are emotionally and physically ready, then yes, you can have sex that is both safe and satisfying.

In the last five years, several important strategies for dramatically reducing one's risk of transmitting HIV have emerged, allowing everyone to engage in meaningful safe sex, regardless of their HIV status.

For Valentine's Day, and every day of the year, protect yourself and your loved one by using these four safe sex strategies as your guidelines:

1. Talk with your partner. 

One of the best strategies to having safe sex is to talk to your sexual partner about it before sex. This includes discussing and getting tested for HIV and other STIs, sharing your sexual history and expectations for this relationship, and mutually agreeing on a plan for safe sex. 

2. Use the barrier methods consistently and correctly. 

Traditional barrier methods, such as a latex condom, can help minimize the risk of transmitting HIV. By using protective barriers, you not only prevent the spread of HIV, but also help prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of other sexually transmitted infections.

3. Make treatment a prevention count. 

People with HIV are much less likely to transmit HIV if they start taking HIV medications as soon as they're diagnosed. When they take them every day they can suppress their HIV viral load (meaning the doctor cannot find any virus in their blood), which reduces the risk of transmitting HIV.

4. Protect against infection. 

If you or your sexual partner have been diagnosed with HIV or potentially exposed to it, the use of Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is an important new HIV prevention method. PrEP is a pill that HIV-negative people can take every day to help prevent becoming infected with HIV. When used correctly, PrEP can reduce your risk of transmission by 99 percent. Talk with your health care provider if you are interested in PrEP.

Remember to practice these strategies as you engage in sex, and if you have any questions, check with your health care provider.  With the right knowledge and partner, sex can be safe, healthy, and enjoyable.

 

Dr. Allison Webel, co-author of Living a Healthy Life with HIV, is an articulate and extremely credible speaker about the effects of stigma on HIV patients. She is a prominent researcher who focuses on the field of HIV self-management. Learn more at: www.bullpub.com/catalog/Living-a-Healthy-Life-with-HIV.

Tags: Sex & Dating

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