Things are going well. If you don’t know by now, I’m in a relationship-my first real one since diagnosis. (That’s if you don’t count the dead ones.) We have run into only one hitch so far: He wants to perform oral sex on me. But that’s not all. He would like to have intercourse and finger me-all without protection.

It didn’t happen overnight. We started out being very safe. I had my bedside bag of tricks-condoms, lube of every denomination, dental dams, latex gloves, Saran wrap, female condoms, vibrators and props in every shape and size. I believe in being prepared for any excuse that safe sex is boring.

We were having sex everywhere we went: In bathrooms, the car, shower, the movies; I kept a portable safety kit tucked in my pushup bra at all times. I’ve never had such good sex. His penis was like a well-trained puppy. I would just give it a look, and bam!

Finally my prayers had been answered. He had no inhibitions. I could strap it on or take the strap. As Geoffrey became more educated and we grew closer in spirit, he started to voice his desire to taste me. I immediately tried to distract him, but to no avail. He said: "Look, I’ve read everything you gave me about HIV. If you have no detectable viral load, then how is the virus going to infect me? Besides, there is only one to three viral particles per cc of vaginal secretions anyway. There is a hierarchy of risk here."

It sounded strangely like one of my lectures. I was at a loss for words. I asked him to let me think about it while I consulted with an array of experts (all my HIV-enhanced girlfriends).

I know that barrier oral sex is really not one of the areas I or anyone I know has perfected. Among my girlfriends, there seemed to be two camps: You’re safe or you’re not. Once you give them a taste of the real thing, it’s hard to go back down the latex road.

I thought long and hard about this; I finally said: “Look. I need boundaries. I can’t live with knowing I’m putting you at risk. But if you choose to take a small risk, I will show you how to make me feel more comfortable about it.” I explained to him my simulated oral-sex method: He goes down into the general part of my vulva, to that most amazing piece of anatomy God ever invented-my clitoris. He needs to keep his mouth shut and just use his lips. If he uses his tongue, he needs to stay clear of the vagina.

He proceeded to his lessons. He performed too well. I started out rigid and nervous, and ended up a puddle of soup. A few times he strayed to off-limits areas; I emerged from my reverie to smack him over the head with the lamp I keep for such purposes.

But my friends were right; now he wants more. If he could do that, why not just fuck me without a condom? I didn’t quite understand the leap, but he explained that he had no cuts, sores or abrasions on his penis. “Can I just put it in for a second?” (Gee, where have I heard that before?) I got pissed. I don’t want to be the body-fluid police in this relationship. I also don’t think I could bear it if I infected this man.

I tried to entice him with the female condom. It made things worse. He protested that it was like doing a Hefty bag. In my heart, I don’t believe I would infect him if he nailed me once without a condom, but it would mean an argument every time we had sex-about three times a day.

So for his birthday, I inserted Advantage 24, a gel that coats the vagina with a low dose of Nonoxynol 9 (a spermicide believed to kill HIV). I had already tested it for allergic reactions on both of our genitals. I examined his member with a magnifying glass. I said, “Happy birthday, honey.”

Yes, I did it. I would be lying to say I wasn’t as excited as he was. Condoms don’t bother me. I don’t feel they stop anything but body fluid. We did it for about an hour, very slow and gentle. There were no words. It wasn’t about pleasure, orgasm or anything other than trust, love, intimacy. When we were done, I cried. I told him I can never do this again. “I don’t care what the chances are you won’t be infected, I can’t live like this. I know you believe that you should have a say in the risks you want to take, but I can’t handle it emotionally. If this means that we best just end this fabulous incredible thing we have, that’s where I’m at. I feel that strongly.”

I think he got it.