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Author Topic: What is safe sex?  (Read 9329 times)

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Offline VenturaCo

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What is safe sex?
« on: February 09, 2011, 08:34:55 pm »
I don't need an immediate answer to this - I may not need any answer at all. It all depends on what happens with my husband.

Together 19 years, and last Friday I found out he's a sex addict and he is now HIV+. We're trying to figure out where we're going from here. If he can't get the addiction under control so it's not an active part of our lives, we will divorce. If he can, we will figure out how to get past this, if we can. But, if we get to that point, we're going to have to practice safe sex, and I don't have any idea what that is. I've done searches and I get conflicting answers. Some say that "deep kissing" is risky. Some say that oral sex (me sucking him) is risky without a condom. And then there's the medical sites that say anywhere any of his body fluids land should be cleaned with bleach. I'm not featuring the idea of wiping myself down with bleach if some of his cum lands on me. So he always wear a condom, no matter what we're doing?

How much of this is actually true, and how much of it is overblown hysteria? We had unprotected sex between the time he converted and when he was diagnosed, and I've tested negative. Because he's been so active everywhere else, he didn't have a lot of time for me at home, and it had been about a month since we last had sex. I'm typically the top in anal sex, and that's what we did last. I know there will have to be a lot of exploring and figuring out what will be satisfying for us both, if it comes to that, but I quick list of what is truly risky and what isn't would be helpful.

Offline Assurbanipal

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 08:51:46 pm »
There's a lesson on transmission risks here http://www.aidsmeds.com/articles/Transmission_9927.shtml

Quick summary -- use a condom for anal or vaginal sex.  Don't share needles.  There's some controversy over whether there is a small risk to you from sucking him, but studies of couples where one is negative and the other positive have not shown any transmissions that way.  No risk from being sucked.

Sounds like you two have a lot on your plates -- hope you can avoid letting fear of HIV get in the way of all the other things you are working on.

oh ... and welcome to the forums

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Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 09:05:51 pm »
Urban speaks big truth re sexual transmission.

With reference to his body fluids needing to be cleaned up with bleach, that's not true. HIV is a fragile virus which is rapidly deactivated once outside of the body. Cleaning up with soap and water or detergent is sufficient to take care of things HIV wise.


Offline Ann

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 09:35:16 pm »
Ventura, please realise that you still need this information even if you divorce. Although you might not feel like it now, sooner or later you'll probably want to start seeing others again and you WILL need to protect yourself. Have a read through the condom and lube links in my signature line so you can use them with confidence. The condoms are a girl's best friend link leads to a particularly good Dutch site in Amsterdam. I've been to their shop there and they rock.

A top has a smaller chance of being infected than a bottom (but it's not no risk) and with that four week negative you already have in hand, I'd say you have a very good chance of continuing to test negative.

The vast majority of people who have actually been infected will seroconvert and test positive by six weeks, with the average time to seroconversion being only 22 days.

Good luck with the testing - and with sorting out the marital stuff too. I feel for you.
Condoms are a girl's best friend

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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline VenturaCo

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 07:22:14 am »
Thanks for the responses. At this point I don't see the HIV being a factor in any decisions. I'm either going to learn to trust him again or I'm not. If I don't, I can't be with someone I don't trust. And that hurts more than I thought anything could, because he's an incredible, loving and very wonderful man and he's been my best friend and support system for almost half my life. I don't blame him for the addiction - not when I'm thinking rationally, anyway - I just can't have the insecurity and pain continue. I'm a monogamist and I don't see that changing, so him going out and doing random things with random people doesn't work. The only reason we're still together is because I believe that he wants to get this under control and he's stopped acting out. If I stop believing that, it'll be done.

And I guess I do need the information anyway, but I'm not looking at any future things. I'm nearly 50 years old, and I've had 20 years of a 90% great relationship - and I didn't know about the 10% that was bad and destructive. I know I could find someone who could make that 10% work, but I'll never find anyone who could match the other 90%. I really see myself being single if this doesn't work, and as a single man it's so much faster and easier just to go to the bathroom for a few minutes than to go out to a bar (that I don't want to be in) and chat someone up (that I'm not really interested in) for a mostly unsatisfactory experience that would only make me realize how much better sex can be when it's with someone you truly care about.

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 10:02:14 pm »
I have followed this thread for a while now. Thanks for writing back and checking in again!

I hope you two are engaged in good marital therapy, and beyond that, I hope that the therapist is a good fit. Sometimes you don't get an awful lot of attempts when a relationship is hanging by a thread. If you are in good therapy, I hope you realize that this behavior has little if anything to do with you, but that as exactly half of such a long and deep relationship, where you go from here is a decision you have to make.

You are a monogamist. It seems clear that your partner is not. I say this because I am not, though I am currently with someone who is. the tedious details of my relationship notwithstanding, you have to decide what weight you put on this aspect. If it is a dealbreaker, then the deal has been broken. and the limited (and soft, pardon the pun) science there is on sexual addiction suggests that these behaviors, these compulsions, will not necessarily fade, and that future indiscretions will likely occur.

What your partner CAN do is to control these urges, and work out why he is pursuing sexual outlets, and make the very important decision, regardless of his success, to minimize the risks to himself and to you. He has HIV now. This is a game-changer. But he could also get (and give syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, and many other nasty things. It really does seem that you love him, and you should make certain he is aware of these risks.

However, it seems clear that on a fundamental level you two see sex in very very different ways. And if you cannot change your own paradigm, there is really little hope for a happy future. Maybe it is time for you and your partner to have a frank and uncensored discussion of sex. What it means to you, what it stands for, and what you get from it.  Like I said before, in a therapeutic situation, this can be (mostly) tolerable, and it looks like this needs to happen before either of you can make real moves forward together.

Whatever happens, please use a condom for penetrative anal sex to avoid HIV. And please get tested routinely for other STDs, which are far more easily transmitted than HIV. I sincerely wish the best for you both.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline VenturaCo

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 11:31:21 pm »
Actually, despite all evidence to the contrary, he is a monogamist. I guess you'd have to know him to believe that, but he's truly bewildered by what has happened. Where he is normally a very competent and accomplished, secure man, this has absolutely broken him. He's cried more in the last few days than I've seen him cry in all the years we've been together - and he's never once cried over his status. He's cried over the damage he's done to our relationship, and over the shame from what he's done, which is so completely against what he's always believed and wanted for himself and for us. He considers it a sin, because he's religious. I'm an atheist, and I just call it acting against your own beliefs. It happens with addiction.

The other thing that happens is self-destructive behavior. He knows about prevention. He volunteered for an AIDS group, and organized fundraisers. We've got a very dear friend who has been positive for more than 25 years. It's not like he has no idea about it, or its impact. But the addiction took over and completely compromised his rational side. The man I know - the one who has never seen a challenge he couldn't meet - would never have gotten into a position to be infected. Even if he was having an affair, he would have done it as competently and efficiently as he does everything else. Instead he engaged in behavior that was a risk to both his health and his life. He could easily have been killed doing some of the things I've found out about in the last few days. It's almost like he was hoping for that outcome.

I still love him very much, and I want us to stay together. As long as I know that he's working toward what I know we both want for us, I'm willing to give it a shot. If he decides that he can't be the husband I fell in love with and married, then I'm done, and so are we.

Offline geobee

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2011, 12:34:16 am »
Hey Ventura Co --

You seem to have a very good head on your shoulders.  There is, as I'm sure you know, a complete program for sex addicts and co-dependents of sex addicts (if you feel that you might fall into this category).  I am, uh, intimately acquainted with the program and it works.   I completely "get" what you said re: your husband being a) monogamist and b) addicted.   Scratch the surface and the reasons for all this may reveal themselves from his past.  I 've seen up close that the step-based SAA program works and happiness and resolution is possible.  Your understanding and support for him are a great start -- Hang in there!  The bulk of the work, of course, is his.

The next thing I want to say is controversial, but in my case it's true -- you can get HIV through giving oral sex.  I did (I let guys cum in my mouth).  When I went to both my docs (I'm in a study at UCSF / SF General and my doc at Kaiser) they both said that it is possible, but not common.  If your husband's on meds and his viral load is undetectable, the risk is probably nil.

Last, I must say I was really moved by your honesty and your predicament and, based on my own experience -- could identify with it strongly.  In my case, I was your husband.  When I got HIV, my partner of 20 years left me and, well, it still smarts.  But I persevered with the program and am solidly on the path of recovery.  I know that soon you and your husband will be too.  Best of luck.

Offline VenturaCo

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2011, 08:33:48 am »
I'm sorry to hear about your relationship ending. Finding out all this was the most painful thing that's ever happened to me, and we haven't even gotten to the HIV part yet. That's kind of on the back burner until the rest of it is handled. I know it means changes, and I know he's afraid of what the future might hold, but we can get through that, as long as we get through this.

Thank you for posting. It's reassuring to hear from someone the program has worked for and know that it's possible. He's going to SAA meetings and also seeing a private therapist. That part kind of frustrates me, because he's caught up in all this shame and guilt and he won't let me pay for him to see someone who specializes in addiction recovery. He's gone back to school full time to get his degree and we're living on my income while he does it. He says he's not worth the money it would cost us. The therapist he's seeing through the clinic is probably all right, but I'd rather our future wasn't in the hands of someone randomly picked from a pool of people willing to see clients for free. He only gets 10 free sessions, so when that runs out I hope he'll have moved past this enough that we can look for a specialist.

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: What is safe sex?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2011, 09:31:59 am »
This is all still very new to both of you, Ventura. So even though you want him to see a different therapist, I'd say let the temporary therapy situation hold in for the timebeing. In the meantime also work on continuing intimacy between you too by talking simply, honestly and directly. And not by any means only about the sexual addiction and HIV issues. As large as those things loom right now, your life together still contains much more than those elements.

You obviously care for each other and have had wonderful aspects to your relationship. If he is willing to continue to attend SAA meetings that is a good place for him to get support and to deal with what sounds like a mountain of shame and guilt he's struggling with right now. If it feels right to say, you might tell him from time to time to "put away the whips" against himself for the timebeing. They are not helpful and you can always tell him that you will let him know if and when he should take them out again to beat up on himself.

Without dumping on him, let him know how you're feeling. Speak honestly and simply. Your doing that including about your mix of feelings -- angry, loving, the whole gamut, may help him to express his own range of emotions.

I won't in anyway minimize the challenges you two are faced with in order to move forward together. But I will say that I have seen others in this situation able to survive and more than just survive. It requires working together and more strength than you may have known you had.

If it's helpful to you of course please keep talking here about how things are proceeding.     
Andy Velez


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