It’s one thing to go around claiming you’re a sex goddess when you have only yourself to face in the morning. But having recently fallen in love -- yes, it’s true! -- I now wake up next to the man of my dreams (or close to it). There’s something daunting about doing it on all fours sans sheets in the brightness of 9 am -- before my makeup person has arrived, let alone forgoing the shower, the blow-dryer and the toothbrush (am I shallow?). After all, a 24-hour-a-day sex goddess is a tall order. I finally broke down and let him know that even sex goddesses get the blues.

You no doubt wonder what all this “sex goddess” stuff’s about. Well, it’s just my way of being HIV positive. I wasn’t into calling myself a PWA or any of the other, less glamorous names: AIDS victim, patient, cadaver. Not very sexy. Instead I decided on sex goddess. You need a little extra boost when you’re bug-infested.

The media keeps reminding us that we’re the Untouchables. Take “Abstinence is the only safe sex.” This slogan makes me cringe. It literally means that every time I engage in my favorite pastime, I’m threatening another person’s life. But it’s about more than the act of sex. The HIV-enhanced are supposed to surrender all sexual desires to atone for having once been such whores. Of course we were sluts if we got infected in the first place, right? That’s what I hear, anyway.

Even if you’re not rolling in anyone’s hay, it’s still important to be aware of yourself as a sexual being. So in order never to forget what a fabulous, hot babe I am, I became an HIV-intensified sex goddess. Not your ordinary been-there, done-that empress of the erotic. But the Sex Goddess of the Universe. She who helps guide others to embrace their own inner sex goddess. (See five steps, below.)

Since coming out as a sex goddess to my, uh, sweetheart (What else should I call him at this stage of the game -- partner? Not quite. Significant other? Oh, please. Lover? Old man? Boyfriend? Wild animal with a cock of steel?), I’ve had to do some maintenance. Don’t get me wrong: Things in the beauty game have definitely improved since I found out I have HIV. In the first place, I no longer look in the mirror and say, “Fat pig, die.” Before HIV, I always found something wrong with my appearance, even when I had a “Reebok body.” But I’ve learned that looks, weight and body shape are not the be-all, end-all of self-esteem. No, finding your sexiness and maintaining it is definitely an inside job.

Now my wild man of steel tells me hourly what a fox I am; his appendage confirms the notion that yes, I’m a sexy woman. But it’s me who has to find myself beautiful. Why? It’s not just about wanting every man, woman and child to gaze at me lustfully when I walk into a room. It’s about health and well-being. When I feel sexy, I have more energy. I have the confidence to try new endeavors. I’m vibrant. Strong in the face of adversity. Sympathetic to others. Nice even to myself. All this because of high sex-esteem? You betcha! I have found I’m not the only one.

Just follow River Huston’s five easy steps, and you’ll stay forever a Sex Goddess of the World:

1. When you suddenly find your legs wrapped around the neck of the one you love, don’t be distracted by your stomach and don’t try to suck it in. First, it doesn’t work. Second, it’s too late. Third, he doesn’t care. (I asked.)

2. Don’t turn off the lights. In fact, rent floodlights. And bring that little flashlight for the cracks and crevices -- it’s all good.

3. No more douches, sprays or vaginal mints! It’s supposed to smell like that. If strawberries and vinegar really turned men on, imagine what Aisle 4 of your local supermarket would look like.

4. Speak out. Is he just a few millimeters from heaven? Don’t just lie there thinking of England. Come right out and tell your loved one how to do it right. Now is not the time to be coy -- that’s what sex-goddess affirmation is all about. There’s nothing like popping a juicy dewy to make a girl feel sex goddess -- esque.

5. The next time you let go with a rip-roaring queef (for those of you out of the loop, it’s the vaginal equivalent of passing gas), rest secure that it’s part of life and nothing but a bean dinner is more intimate. If these hints don’t help, it may be time to go back to basics: Get out your beaver-tongued vibrator, turn it on and say, “I am good enough, I am sexy enough, and goddammit, people like the way I smell.” Repeat until satisfied.