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Author Topic: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)  (Read 5264 times)

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Offline Amosboy

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HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« on: December 08, 2006, 09:49:54 AM »
Friends,

I am quite sure that this topic has been addressed many times on this forum, but I wanted to share some things from my own perspective.  I am HIV+ (20 years) and my partner (of 10 years) is HIV-.  We play well together, most of the time.  I actually started visiting this site to meet and greet others who could share in my own personal experience in living with HIV.  And of course, I've toed the line on a few of my own struggles with monogamy by becoming a complete cyber slut with some of you fine folks.  Oh well, it's the safest of sex, right? 

I could spend a lot of time talking about how being HIV+ has really affected my body (physically) and my mind (emotionally), but I see no need to really do that.  Most of you have experienced that already.  I have my own "bad days" just like the rest of us.  What I really want to do here is address the affect this may have on our partners who are HIV-. 

Often times, I think it has been easier to deal with the thoughts of my own mortality than that of my partner's.  Granted, it takes a strong will to be forward-thinking about the future sometimes and be HIV+.  It's a lot easier now than it used to be.  I've had time to find my own safe space about actually living with this disease.  It's a part of me...but only "physically" a part of me, not "physically" a part of my partner's living experience.  Again, I think it takes a lot of positive thinking to put it in its proper place, and I manage OK.

However, I think it must be twice as hard to be "in love" or involved with someone who is HIV+.  I cannot honestly say if I could do it, if the shoe were on the other foot.  The fear of losing someone to a potentially agonizing death would be quite heavy hearted at times.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not waving the "I'm HIV+...I don't deserve to be loved flag", but it just seems so courageous for those who are HIV- to willingly enter into these unpredictable dynamics.  Sure, none of us have any guarantees about our time on this earth, but I feel that those HIV- people who truly trust in the power of the "here and now" should be recognized as "true believers" in strength of life in the present.

It's rather odd for me to question whether or not I could have done the same had the tables been turned.  I would probably have to say, in the end, I would.  There is some line in the movie "Steel Magnolias" where Julia Roberts is telling her Mom about the choices she made about having a "week full of wonderful" as opposed to a lifetime of mediocrity...or something like that.  That always hit my heart hard.

And granted, I get worried about my health from time to time when I get a cold that seems to just hang around too long or an unsightly bout with a week-long stay at the Grand Toilette.  But I wonder, "What must my partner be thinking?".  I often wonder if he allows himself to go down those roads in his mind from time to time.  Surely, he must and that is when I feel the most helpless.  I would like to be able to take his fear of loss away and say it's all going to be OK.

I suppose we are both pretty good at Carpe Diem!  When things are going so good, that's when I worry about losing him.  It's an odd feeling to have, when I'm the one with the HIV.  I just want to say to all of those people out there that are in HIV+/HIV- relationships that I can appreciate the dynamics that most of you struggle through. 

Grateful and Savoring Life,

Brooks

"Love isn't love unless it's not painfully absurb."

-Charlotte Martin

Offline ACinKC

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2006, 10:28:30 AM »
I, being newly married to an HIV - girl, can understand where you are coming from.  However, we tend not to think of it too much.  I don't think it is on her mind nearly as much as it is on mine and it's not all consuming for me.

But I get what your saying.  And sometimes yeah it does suck.  But I guess I do what I do best, compartmentalize the fear and anxiety like a rabid dog and poke holes in the lids of those compartments to let it breathe somewhat every once in a while. 

Oh, and HUMOR!  Cant have enough of that laying around.
LIFE is not a race to the grave with the intention of arriving safely
in a pretty and well-preserved body, but, rather to skid in broadside,
thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming--WOW! WHAT A
RIDE!!!

Offline jrm

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2006, 03:44:28 PM »
Hello . I'm new here . I have just started a new relationship. I am negative and he is positive . I have not dealt with this since the early nineties ... burying a relative, burying friends through the nineties . Seems things have changed since the days of azt . I am currently trying to get a more current view of the situation . Many years ago it was basically a death sentence . Today things are different .
I have a very open mind regarding this . Hence how I am able to date someone poz while staying negative .
My main thought is what is regarded as safe versus what used to be safe ?
Oral OK or not ? Kissing OK or not ? I may have an open mind but just not sure where to draw the line ? Obviously condoms .
My mind is all over the place right now so please bear with me if this does not seem to flow well. It's just something that has not been an issue in my life for many years . The info I have is severely outdated and I just need updating .

Hopefully this does not offend anyone.

John

Offline AtomicA

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2006, 04:43:06 PM »
The way that me and my new boyfriend have dealt with this is to go into it with as much information as possible and for him to be included in some of the less pleasant realities of my life.

First thing, I took him to the STD clinic for a full battery of tests, which he hadn't done in 4 years.
Second thing, we both spent a great deal of time on this site and various other places online for information
Third thing, we booked an appointment at the HIV clinic here together to speak to one of their social workers. He got to see where I go every 1-3 months, came with me to get blood drawn and met the nurses, study co-ordinators and my doctor. It sure took alot of the mystery and fear out of it.

I agree, the people who agree to enter into these relationships with us deserve a medal, though sometimes I think what's truly strange is that more people than is justified don't deserve that medal. There is no guarantee that anyone you choose to have in your life may not be in a car accident and become a quadrapalegic or get terminal cancer or some other unpredictable, life altering illness. I for one am much happier knowing that my guy has already proven his courage and that if something like that happened to me, he wouldn't run out. Nor would I run out on him. HIV negative couples will never know for sure if their partner would stick around if the worst happened and I feel pretty dam lucky that I don't have to worry about that.

Also
WELCOME JRM!
seeing as this monday I was talking to a nurse and a social worker about the exact thing you are asking, let me relay the information i was given by two qulalified HIV specialists (and some people on here that I asked as well).
1. Oral sex - considered a low risk activity. Low risk, by Canada's definition means that there has never been a confirmed case of transmission due to this activity but because there is an exchange of HIV carrying bodlily fluids, the risk is not zero. However, your + partner can give you head with absolutely no risk to you, the'low risk' only applies when you are giving him head. To reduce that risk even further... his viral load does have something to do with the risk. if he is undetectable, the risk is even lower than low. Your oral health is a HUGE factor. If you don't already start flossing and using listerine (the only mouthwash whose mix of ingredients has been clinically proven to reduce gingivitis/bleeding gums). If you have recently burnt or cut your mouth or feel a canker sore coming on DO not perform oral sex without a condom (or ideally, at all). Ideally, not performing oral sex on him within an hour of brushing/flossing would be good, but again the key here is to have excellent oral health and life happens right? Do not get his cum in your mouth and for god sake do not swallow it. You may have tiny little ulcers in your throat that you are unaware of and the only way to know for sure is to have someone stick a camera down your throat and check all the way down to your stomache. fun time. If you do get cum in your mouth, spit it out and rinse out your mouth. It's not the end of the world, saliva has a whole bunch of HIV deactivation enzymes and it doesn't last long. If you have no cuts or direct passages into your bloodstream, you will be fine. Precum has less HIV in it than cum anyway and one factor that is involved in transmission has to do with viral volume, if he is undetectable this risk is reduced even further.
the gist of oral sex - have good oral health, don't let him cum in your mouth and make sure his treatments are continuing to be effective and you will be fine. let him blow you to your hearts content.

2. rimming - higher risk than oral sex. Asides from things like hepatitis (have you both been vaccinated?) which can live outside the body for weeks, the rectum has thousands of tiny little blood vessiles that can tear and possibly pass blood on to you directly. If you are going to rim, a dental dam is a good idea (reduces the risk of picking up parasites and all the other nasty bacterial infections you can get from that area) but if you're not going to use one... well again with the oral health, make sure his area is totally clean, like disinfected clean (disinfectant hand wipes and then a quick wash to get rid of the taste/smell of alcohol) and DO NOT rim him after fucking him, only before.

3. fucking - again, his viral load plays a role in his infectiousness. Doctors are wary to tell people this but it's simply a matter of numbers, less virus in blood means less virus to transmit. Seminal viral load will also be reduced but may not necessarily be undetectable, even though blood levels are. ALWAYS use condoms. anal sex with properly used condoms has never transmitted HIV. Choice of lube is important. nothing with oil (obviously) and make sure that it is thick enough to actually provide proper, long last lubrication. sometimes water based lubes will bead up on latex making them less lubricated and they will dry out faster, possibly leading to breakage or tearing of the rectal lining. just make sure there is NO oil of any kind in your lube. If the worst happens... he is fucking you and the condom breaks - hopefully he is undetectable and you both discover the broken condom before he cums. It would be a good idea to get yourself to a hospital, let them know what has happened and ask them to start a post exposure prophylactic program. basically they start giving you HIV anti-virals right away and if they catch it soon enough (within 48 hours, but the sooner the better) there is a good chance they can prevent the virus from taking hold, if it has found it's way in to your blood. If you are fucking him and the condom breaks - well I once read online that the chance of transmission for an HIV -bottom, +top in this scenario is about 1 in 50 and the chance for an HIV -top, +bottom is about 1 in 500. I asked at my clinic and it turns out that those numbers are somewhere close to accurate. So if you're fucking him and the condom breaks there needs to be some blood that finds it's way up your urethra and into your blood stream, far far less likely but not impossible. It would still be a good idea to go get PEPP. The key is to not have the condom break, which means putting it on as per instructions in the box and using adequate lube. It's also a very good idea to avoid porn flick style fucking. piston pumping might look hot but it's not that great feeling for either party and risks causing more tearing to the anal lining, thus more blood. Being SUPER relaxed and going slow both feels better and preserves your body's defense systems. LUBE LUBE LUBE!
Choice of condom is important too. Polyurethane condoms are expensive as all hell but can withstand thicker, oil based lubes without degrading. However, while polyurethane might be stronger, the condoms are thinner and less flexible and have been shown to have 6 times the failure rate of latex condoms. That's the difference between 1 failure in 100 uses and 1 failure in 17.
the gist - be gentle, be relaxed, use condoms and lots of lube, keep his VL in check and fucking is very safe.
oh - if the very worst happens and he somehow cums in your ass unprotected, it would be wise to invest in a non-invasive anal douche. Getting the cum out as fast and as gently as possible reduces any chance the virus has of finding a tear. The other thing the nurse at the clinic said is that if you are fucking him and the condom breaks or comes off and you can find no evidence of blood on his ass, the condom or your cock you probably don't even need to go to the hospital for PEPP, but whether or not you do is up to you.

Kissing - No risk

Mutual jacking - Nor risk

Getting cum on a cut on your hand - after an hour (unless of course you are a hemopheliac) a cut is pretty much sealed tight.

Getting cum in your eye - weird I know but who hasn't had this happen to them? HIV hates oxygen and room temp. While the cold virus loves this avenue for infection, the eye is (or is supposed to be) and totally closed system. gently rinse your eye with water - which you should do anyway cuz it burns like a mother - and avoid rubbing it raw. No one has ever contracted HIV that way.

I'm sure I'm missing something... that's all I can think of right now!
again, welcome!

Offline poet

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2006, 05:03:33 PM »
To Brooks, I have to ask, why do you 'wonder' what your partner is thinking.  I can tell from this post and others that you are very aware, but it seems to me in this post that your questions, which are great relationship questions, have someone right there with you who can answer them and it might make it much, much easier for both of you if he were asked what his thoughts are. 

To John: welcome.  I think that if you read around the forum posts, you will find that none of us is absolutely clear on what is or what isn't safe.  My suggestion has always been, having dated back to the 1980's with this, that anyone negative dating anyone positive and in reverse needs communication between them and a willingness to negotiate, which I think is a good term for this, what the rules of engagement will be as well as the right to revisit them at any point.  I would encourage you to read as much as you care to read and then come up with your initial rules.  I just don't think it fair to try to sell you a warranty.

We are lucky to have Atomic who has taken the time to spell potential rules out.  Win
Winthrop Smith has published three collections of poetry: Ghetto: From The First Five; The Weigh-In: Collected Poems; Skin Check: New York Poems.  The last was published in December 2006.  He has a work-in-progress underway titled Starting Positions.

Offline Eldon

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2006, 12:51:13 AM »
Hey Brooks,

With this situation or pondering, you may want to sit down with your partner and ask him what is on his mind. Based on what he communicates back to you, then you will be able to help him come to an understanding if need be.

Hey John...Welcome to the forums.

Hey Adam...I must say that you explained that rater well.

Happy Holidays!

Offline GSOgymrat

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2006, 09:46:13 AM »
Being HIV+ and in a relationship with someone who is HIV+ I kind of forget about "the issues" around being infected. When we were first diagnosed, he in 1992 and me in 1993, I worried about things like who was going to get sick first, etc. It was definitely stressful and I honestly thought one of us would be dead in 5 years. The chances of both of us being around in 10 years was unrealistic. Now as time goes on and treatments improve and we are both in relatively good health I just don't think about it that much. I worry more about him getting killed in a car wreck (he doesn't always wear his seatbelt) or having a heart attack than getting PCP.

I think that's how it would be if I were negative and with someone positive or vice versa. I think it would be a big deal in the beginning and then 10 years down the road it would just be a deal.

Offline jrm

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2006, 12:21:39 PM »
Hi everyone and thank you for the welcome as well as the information update to my outdated info . The next step will ultimately be the whole barrage of tests , have not had any done in many years . I guess eventually there will be the visits with him to the various doctors and I can get updated there as well  .
His viral load is undetectable so there is no worries on that front . Only the small worries for me . But I guess they are to be expected . Communication is definately key for me . I just don't have the luxury of an open schedule ... my hours are very early to very late ( business owner during slow times ) and usually no one is around to talk with that understands . I am grateful to everyone here for all that is required with a site like this . I am also glad he told me about this site . It takes the pressure off him with all of the constant questions . 

Again thank you for the welcome and info,

John

Offline poet

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2006, 04:16:38 PM »
John, to get some further perspective which you seem to have in your posts and to pick up what Gymrat posted, as someone who was in the field and positive himself in the mid 1980's, yes, at that time, my concern when dating and the reality of my dating was that any boyfriend would soon be dead.  And that's exactly what did happen at least three times too many.  Yes, each person was 'sick,' but when the turn to worse would take place wasn't obvious.  One had a severe allergic reaction to an illegal drug on trial.  One slowly dissolved.  One spun out of control on drugs. 

That was then, however.  These days, I don't even consider it and know of know one who has departed as a result of hiv.  These days, as someone dating someone who is positive, I am negotiating what we will do, but not with this sense of impending doom.  Win
Winthrop Smith has published three collections of poetry: Ghetto: From The First Five; The Weigh-In: Collected Poems; Skin Check: New York Poems.  The last was published in December 2006.  He has a work-in-progress underway titled Starting Positions.

Offline jrm

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2006, 06:54:11 AM »
Thank you Winthrop . It's not that I am concerned about his mortality , ... eventually we all die , ... just some sooner then others . More so just the basics ....  when he gets sick , which he just was , how to help him . Other then just being there can I do anything proactive .... etc .

Basically this is all virgin territory for me . I haven't given any thought to all of this other then trying to learn all the new stuff there is to know .

BTW Winthrop what part of the Cape are you on ? I'm there every summer for 2 weeks in August . I stay at relatives that have been there since the 40's in Provincetown .

John

Offline poet

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Re: HIV+ / HIV- (From My Perspective)
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2006, 03:34:01 PM »
I think, if I didn't say it before, John, that making use of this site's resources is going to be a great first step for you.  My suggestion to anyone, whether positive him or herself or not, is to wade in only as far as your eyes don't start glazing over.  All of this will be here for you tomorrow and the next day.  We would all welcome your posts as they come to mind, too.

As for the Cape.  I lived in P-town from Sept. 2003- May 2006 and now live in Hyannis.  My 'warning,' which you will understand, is that I will know your relatives simply because those of us who lived there year-round and so had to sit on boards and committees did get to know everyone. :)  Just telling someone from P-town how long a family has lived there narrows the field.  I say this with in a totally friendly way, btw. Best. Win
Winthrop Smith has published three collections of poetry: Ghetto: From The First Five; The Weigh-In: Collected Poems; Skin Check: New York Poems.  The last was published in December 2006.  He has a work-in-progress underway titled Starting Positions.

 


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