I’m positive, butmy negative partner of two years thinks the risk ofinfection when he fucks me is low and worth taking.When hesuggested this, I thought, no way—I couldn’t livewith myself if I infected him. But the more  we talk, I startthinking it’s his right to choose.

Allmixed-status couples face these questions. For straight and gayrelationships, emotional bonding and sex go hand in hand. The condommay become an emotional and physical barrier. Your partner may bedeveloping feelings of separation because he can’t physically sharewhat he’d like to. This is one way of proving love and commitment. Asthe HIVer, you may feel responsibility toward him.

First, gettransmission facts. Risk depends on the sex you’re having. A 1999 studyof gay and bisexual men found the chance of infection for insertivepartners in anal intercourse is .06 percent—about 3 in 5000 exposures.If you’re the insertive partner, your negative partner’s risk is about1 in 125. Damage to the rectum increases risk for both partners. A10-year study of heterosexual vaginal sex found male-to-femaletransmission less common—about 0.0009 percent. The woman-to-man riskwas eight times less than that. Risk is exacerbated for anal andvaginal sex if other sexually transmitted infections exist.

Second,gauge your own health and adherence to meds. Although researchers agreethat undetectable viral load makes you less infectious, semen andvaginal fluids can still contain HIV.

Third, discuss if yourrelationship is a long-term commitment. Consider individual counselingso your partner can explore his condom issues.  If you can balancerisk with desire for physical and emotional connection, you can reach amutually respectful conclusion.  

+ Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, is a professor at New york
university and director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies.

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