On Valentine’s Day, some men bring their women chocolates. My man would bring Tight Cheerleader Tramps in 3-D.I knew he was into porn when I met him. But he was conflicted: Was headdicted? And how would I feel about it? So he decided to kick thehabit and go cold chicken. For our first four and a half yearstogether—I’m positive; he’s negative—we ditched the visual aids.

Then,last Fourth of July, he kept calling me at work, worried that I’d be“late for the fireworks.” I arrived to a different sort ofpyrotechnics: a path of vibrators and whips pointing toward acrotchless fishnet bodysuit and stilettos. Redressed for success, Ifound that he’d hauled both TVs into the bedroom and had them playingporno simultaneously. Thank God our finances have grown, because afterthat night, our cable bill did, too.

The next morning, we made apact: We’d watch—but always together. We didn’t want the flicks tosubstitute for our great sex life. But before long, I becameaddicted—to watching unsafe sex. Specifically oral sex, the cunnilingusvariety. We had long ago decided we’d have only safe sex—not low-risksex, but absolute safe sex. It’s fabulous. But suddenly, I wanted hisface between my legs, no barrier.

We don’t do the barrierthing because we don’t like it. We have plenty of hot alternatives:toys, outfits, role-playing, intercourse with a condom. But no oral sexon me. My husband watched, fascinated, as I kept fast-forwarding to the69 scenes. I hadn’t told him about my oral fixation, because I knowhe’d want to please me—and I didn’t want to risk his safety. In thepast, I’d included safe sex even in my fantasies (condoms don’t botherme at all; I even like them). But if I saw any barriers on the screen,I’d yawn. For the first time in 15 years, I was actually thinking aboutsomething unsafe. It was sort of liberating—but how to experience itwithout hurting my husband? What if I were with a woman? Would that becheating? I could reinvent myself as a cute poz lesbian, at low riskfor reinfection. But I know my man wouldn’t accept infidelity. So Isuggest the dental dam again. We both groan—in dissatisfaction. Iconsider joining Cirque du Soleil to learn tongue contortionism.

Onerainy afternoon alone, I used the motorized buddy till the batteriesdied. It wasn’t enough. I stared at the black TV screen. I knew we’dagreed to watch together. So I took my finger and moved it slowlytoward...the play button. I began to feel sick to my stomach. Irealized I didn’t like myself much. And then it hit me: Stop thenonsense. I’m with a hot, sexy man. This fixation isn’t even about sex.As a recovering alcoholic, I know it’s about wanting “what’s notavailable this time.” I’m not saying people with HIV don’t deserve theright to fantasize about whatever sex act they want. And for manypeople, of course, whether positive or negative, it’s what you can’tquite see or experience that becomes the turn-on. I had to separate theerotic from the neurotic: Not being able to have unprotectedcunnilingus doesn’t necessarily make it hot. I needed to realize thatviolating trust—the trust my husband has placed in me and the trustI’ve placed in myself—is a huge turnoff.

One day,cherry-flavored vaginal microbicides that kill the virus will finallyarrive, and I’ll buy stock in the company. Meanwhile, we’ll celebrateValentine’s Day unplugged.