Does HIV Negatively Impact My Sex Life?
Does being HIV-positive negatively impact my sex life? That’s a question I receive often, and it seems to be the only question people seem to be interested in knowing the answer to.
A foundation built on fear
It was a question I used to have too as a child who hadn’t had sex yet. I was advised by other people living with HIV to keep my HIV status a secret and to be selective when disclosing. We believed that revealing our status would cause us tremendous emotional and physical pain.
Common fears were being bullied, our friends and family disowning us, physical and emotional abuse, and being sentenced to years in prison. These fears that were passed down to me set the foundation of my relationship with HIV, and I believe these fears will always be present due to the scarring it has done.
The impact on sex and relationships
If I could use one word to describe the tone of those living with HIV, it would be paranoia. Being paranoid caused me to think about the worst-case scenario of my HIV status weaponizing me.
What harm would come my way?
When I was private about my HIV status, disclosing my status is where I was most fearful because I am opening myself to someone who can cause me harm potentially. Were they going to hurt me the second I told them by beating me up and telling all my friends, family, and the police? Or, were they waiting for the right time to do so?
I still am paranoid, especially when it comes to our justice system. Will they take the accuser's side even though I cannot transmit HIV to others due to me taking my HIV medicine as prescribed?
The fear of HIV
What led me to explore my fears was that I didn’t think life was worth living if I allowed these fears to dictate how I navigate life. And since I wasn’t going to kill myself, the only option I had was to discover if these fears that were passed down to me had truth in them.
Having a sex life as a person living with HIV
When it comes to my sex life, what arouses me the most is my HIV status and being a female; exploring it is thrilling, intensive, and mysterious.
Engaging in sexual activity that I knew others would prefer for me not to partake in was sexually exciting, along with facing the unknown reactions of others when I disclosed my status. By the same token, being an HIV-positive female made me sexually frustrated; so, the rollercoaster of emotions aroused me. This rollercoaster of emotions lessens over time because now, I knew that my fears were not in touch with reality.
People are scared of their fear of HIV
When people are paranoid, they create exaggerated fears that they pass down to others. What I discovered is people are not afraid of me; they are scared of their fear of HIV. Everyone deals with their fears differently: some people cry, some ignore them, some people hurt others, and some face them.
Navigating relationships and HIV is empowering
Now that I’m public about my status and empower others to navigate relationships and HIV, I have noticed others opening up and feeling comfortable talking about HIV. I receive so many messages from people thanking me for speaking on a topic that needs to be discussed. People have been seeking how to navigate relationships and HIV since we were never taught how to.
My HIV status has given me the best sex life I can ever have because it gave me the insight I needed to empower myself and others in a society that oppresses our sexual expression.
Have you ever been unhoused or insecurely housed?