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Sex and risks

red amber and green condoms slid into back pocket

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV then you may well be questioning your sex life and the types of things you like to do.

It is common for people who become infected with HIV through sexual activity to feel guilty or embarrassed, and so they avoid having sex. Usually this is temporary and the good news is that having HIV doesn’t mean an end to enjoying sex. You just need to think about the types of risks you could be taking with partners and how to prevent passing on the virus to an HIV negative person.

HIV is passed from person to person when the blood or semen from an infected person is passed into the bloodstream of an uninfected person. Before you have sex have a think about the ways in which this transfer could occur – a man’s semen could be absorbed into the bloodstream through someone’s anus or vagina, for example.

Usually the best way to stop this transmission is to use a condom. It is important that the condom is used properly and using water-based lube can help stop it being damaged. Change the condom every 30 minutes if you’re having a long session.

Different sexual activities carry different risks. Penetrating someone carries the highest risk of transmission if you don’t use a condom. If you are penetrated by a negative partner then the risk of transmission is lower but it still exists.

Oral sex also carries a low risk but it can still result in the sharing of body fluids and so could potentially result in you infecting your partner.

Our relationships pages contain more detailed descriptions of transmission risks for negative partners and positive partners.

If your viral load is high then you have a higher chance of passing on HIV to a sex partner, regardless of the type of sex you are having. Find out more.



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  • can u still pass hiv on to a negative partner if they ave unprotected sex wit a positive partner?

    Posted 17:26 Thu 13 Sep 2012

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 31/10/2012 by P. Kelly

Date due for the next review: 31/10/2014

Content Author: S. Ellis

Current Owner: S. Ellis

More information:

HIV Transmission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010)

HIV InSite: Sex and Sexuality, University of California Center for HIV Information (2005)

Protecting your own and other people’s sexual health NAMlife