HIV certainly complicates s*x, but if you take the right precautions, there’s no reason why HIV-positive women can’t enjoy a healthy s*x life without passing on the virus.
1. Be honest with your partner
The first things you need to consider are “issues of disclosure – how to protect your partner and assess their HIV status, plus what to do if things go wrong,” says Dr Francois Venter, deputy director at Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute and associate professor in the Department of Medicine at Wits University.
These need to be tackled before you find yourself in the moment so you can approach them with careful thought.
“Plan how to have the conversation, negotiate safe s*x and encourage your partner to get tested. And have a handy plan B in place in case there’s a condom break, such as taking post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which prevents HIV transmission,” says Dr Venter.
There are a lot of myths around condoms not being safe enough to protect against HIV transmission. But if used correctly, and if they don’t burst or come off, they’re 100% safe.
Unfortunately, they occasionally slip or tear, in which case a small risk is present and it’s advised to get PEP from your doctor or clinic. Risk also increases during your period.
3. Stick to your treatment
With the advent of safe and effective antiretrovirals, your health returns to normal and your ability to pass on the virus is reduced almost to zero. So, accidents with condoms, or anything else, are much less likely to have consequences for your partner.
4. Oral sex is low risk for passing on HIV
Dr Venter says, “You’ve got a bigger risk of getting struck by lightning than getting HIV from oral s*x.”
However, you can still catch other STIs from unprotected oral s*x, so proceed with caution.