Sexuality if you’ve only just heard that you have HIV

No desire for sex
If you have only just heard that you have HIV, that news can really turn your sex life upside down. Some people will want to have sex again right away, but for many others, sex will be the furthest thing from their minds. Be sure to takenet weet time to process the news. It is not at all crazy if you have no desire to have sex. That is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. On the other hand, it could be good for you to look for intimacy. That can give you support.

A lot to offer
For the vast majority of people with HIV, sexuality does eventually become normal again. Even with HIV, you still have a lot to offer. Which steps do you dare to take? How will you do that? Start from your own strength. Some people even experience it as a relief, for example because they no longer have to live in uncertainty and they know what is going on. Even though you were probably not hoping for HIV, it might still offer you opportunities.

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Enjoying sexuality

HIV doesn’t have to keep you from enjoying sex. Sexologists have a rather technical way of describing how sexual enjoyment works. It often begins with being in the mood for sex. You want to have sex and you become aroused. But it is also completely normal it your appetite for sex comes only after you have become aroused. Your vagina will become moist and swell up slightly or you will have an erection. You might also have an orgasm as a ‘reward’. And afterwards it’s time to relax and catch your breath again.

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HIV in your relationship

It can sometimes happen that someone finds out that he or she has HIV, while his or her partner does not. The impact of that news can be different in every relationship. Sometimes your partner can be a fantastic source of support, but the new situation can also be a source of tension. Most couples manage to work it out together. Sometimes your partner needs to get used to the idea, but HIV might also play only a small role if any. It could also be that your sex life will never be the same again and that your HIV will be a reason for ending the relationship. If you discuss your feelings with each other, you can take each other into account more easily. It could be that you feel guilty or that you feel unequal. It can be complicated if your partner has run a risk of getting HIV from you. Some people with HIV feel they have an extra responsibility to make sure their partner will not get HIV from them; others feel their partners have an equal responsibility in that regard. It is not uncommon for people to attribute their relationship problems to HIV. The real question is: how can you be sure your relationship would not eventually have developed the same problems, even without HIV?

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Monogamous or open relationship

Open relationships are more common among gay men than among straights. Gays usually find it easier to discuss the topic: ‘What are we allowed to do? Where are the boundaries? How often can each of us do it with others? Will we still have sex together? Will we have someone else join us?’ You can also have a relationship without sex. All flavours are possible. And you can also ask yourselves: ‘What does “not having sex” mean?’ For many people, sex equals fucking. But cuddling is also a form of sexuality. It is not uncommon that partners who no longer fuck with each other still experience a lot of intimacy together. It can have real consequences if one partner in a monogamous relationship is a lot less interested in sex than the other. With an open relationship, you can compensate for such differences in sex drive by having sex with others.

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Telling others about your HIV?

As soon as possible
If I really like someone, I want to tell him about my HIV as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more painful it will be if the person doesn’t accept it.
Sanna

Less likely to give in to anxiety
If I tell someone during a chat session that I have HIV, it happens quite often that he won’t want to go any further with me and says: ‘I’m just going to keep looking.’ Internet chat sites are very anonymous settings. But if you are together in a bar the whole evening, the other person is less likely to give in to his anxieties.
Mark

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The HIV status of your (sex) partner

Some people with HIV simply prefer to have someone else with HIV as their (sex) partner. When someone with HIV chooses to have a partner with the same HIV status, that is known as serosorting. The reasons that peoplestatus partner commonly give for serosorting include feeling that they are on an equal level with their partner, not having HIV be a source of tension in the relationship, and feeling relief at not having to worry about infecting the other person. There are also people with HIV who prefer having a partner who does not have HIV. They might say, for example, that one disease in the relationship is more than enough. Other people don’t care either way, for example because they do not want to limit their choice only to people with HIV.

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(Dealing with) the risk of getting HIV and STIs

If you have sexual contact, you run a risk of passing on or getting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Many people with HIV think it is important not to pass on their virus to others and not to get or pass on any other STI. You can take measures to reduce risk of doing that as much as possible. If you have safer sex, you and your sex partner run very little risk. Whereas the term ‘safe sex’ is commonly used in Dutch, the more common term in English is ‘safer sex’, which implies that while safer sex certainly reduces the risk, it cannot eliminate it altogether.

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Contact

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1054 CX AMSTERDAM

020 6 160 160

servicepunt@hivnet.org
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Servicepunt

020 689 25 77
servicepunt@hivnet.org


For questions about living with HIV. Available monday, tuesday and thursday from 2 PM till 10 PM

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