Before you bed-down, talk to a health care provider about HIV and how best to protect yourself and your partner(s). While a conversation about sex and disease might seem awkward to you, the vast majority of health care professionals welcome the discussion and -- spoiler alert -- have probably seen and heard it all.
GET IN THE KNOW (BE AWARE, TAKE CARE)
Did we mention knowledge is sexy? Well it is. Especially with HIV, where knowing more about prevention and reducing your risk can help you have a safer, even hotter, time in the sack.
When you're lubing up, remember: oil-based lubes like petroleum jellies (Vaseline), body lotions, mineral and vegetable oils, are major no-no's with latex condoms. Use water-based lubes instead for a smooth ride.
And HIV testing is faster and easier than before. Nowadays, rapid, oral swab (needle free!) HIV tests can provide results in as fast as 20 minutes. Traditional HIV tests, using a blood sample of blood from a finger prick or from the inner arm, can take one to two weeks to come back from a lab.
It can take as long as three to six months for the body to develop enough antibodies to be measurable on a test. So if infection occurred recently it may not be detected right away. The time period between HIV exposure and a positive test is called the "window period," during which you could test negative for HIV but still be infected with HIV. Therefore, it is important to get tested (or re-tested) to know for sure.
If cost is a concern - or you don't want to use your insurance or don't have any - many clinics offer tests for free or on a sliding scale. When it's that easy, there's no real excuse not to take control and know your status.
Congratulations, you're in a long-term relationship! Let the barebacking begin! Not so fast, mi monogamous amigos. The inconvenient truth is that primary sex partners account for more than two-thirds of all new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men. That means: don't wait for your partner to bring up HIV. Initiate a discussion about it before you get to the down n' dirty. And honestly, there are few things more intimately charming than caring about you and your partner's health.
If you're HIV positive and not sure how to bring it up or how your partner will react, there are many support groups that can help you learn how to have these conversations and navigate a safer, healthier, sexier sex life. To find an HIV/AIDS organization near you, use this handy resource finder and ask for a referral. Remember, if you're nervous about having the conversation, your partner probably is, too. Make the first move - you'll both be glad you did.