Since the end of the last century few diseases have evoked so much fear and concern as AIDS. While the prime reason for this continues to be the fact that a definite and complete cure has continued to elude scientists, another equally strong cause remains the confusion and misconception over how AIDS is transmitted. This has created a lot of stigma towards HIV positive people, especially in dating and relationships. Here are a few things to keep in mind when dating someone who is
There are two situations where you may find yourself involved with an HIV positive person. The first and relatively harmless situation is where you may be attracted towards a certain guy or woman only to be told that he/she is HIV positive as you start dating him/here. Another more serious situation is when you have been in a relationship with someone for some time and then he/she is diagnosed as HIV positive. In case of the latter, if you have been sexually intimate with each other, it is crucial that you get yourself tested as well. Once you know the truth about your own health, you will not only be able to make the correct choices in the relationship but more importantly start your own treatment, if required.
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Gather the facts
First of all it is necessary to get a clear picture about AIDS the disease. AIDS or Acquired Immunodefiency Syndrome is a disease that weakens the human immune system to the point when it can no longer fight off infections and results in death unless treatment is started. AIDS is caused by the HIV or human immunodeficiency virus which belongs to a group of viruses known as retrovirus. While it is necessary for an AIDS patient to be infected with HIV, one can have HIV in the system without exhibiting the symptoms of AIDS. AIDS actually refers to an advanced, more specifically Stage-3, stage of HIV infection when infection-fighting CD-4 cells in the body fall to a critical level and/or the immune system is no longer able to ward off certain types of infections and cancers.
According to the Center for Disease Control of the US Department of Health and Human Services 1 the most common ways for the transmission of HIV infection are through exchange of specific body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk from the HIV-infected to the non-infected person. These particular fluids must come into contact with the mucous membrane, a damaged tissue or be injected directly into the blood stream for the infection to transmission of HIV to take place. Once you have a clear idea about the virus as well as what does and does not cause transmission of HIV from an infected to a healthy person, you shall be better able to avoid those conditions and have a healthy relationship.
Casual dating is not dangerous
The actions which part of normal dating behavior are highly unlikely to cause you to be affected by the virus. Since the transmission of the HIV takes place only through exchange of certain body fluids, it is completely safe to hold your partner's hands, sit and walk beside him/her and even hug and embrace him/her. It is also completely safe for you to share food and drinks as well as eating utensils. However your partner may have to keep off certain foods and most definitely drinks and cigarettes during treatment for AIDS. So when planning a date keep in mind these restrictions and do not engage in activities that can be tiring or physically dangerous for your partner.
Whether or not to kiss
The fact that HIV is transmitted through specific body fluids has brought kissing, especially the kind that is known as wet kissing, into focus. The CDC website is quite categorical that the highest concentration of HIV virus resides in blood, semen, vaginal fluid and bodily fluid containing blood. The CDC website clarifies that the possibility of transmission of HIV/AIDS depends on what kind of kissing involved. Closed mouth kissing where there is no exchange of saliva is completely safe and there is no risk of infection even when being kissed by a HIV-infected person. However in case of open mouth kissing particularly ‘French kissing’, the saliva might contain traces of blood which can theoretically transmit HIV from the infected to the non-infected partner. This is particularly likely when the HIV-infected person has sore, bleeding gums as a result of which the saliva might contain blood. So even though chances of HIV/AIDS transmission by deep, open-mouth kissing are low as compared to sexual activity, still it is theoretically possible. However closed mouth kissing involves no danger of transmission.
Practice safe sex
If you wish to move further than casual dating towards a physically intimate relationship with an HIV-infected person, it is crucial that you and your partner practice safe sex. It is best if you can entirely refrain from penetrative sexual intercourse and limit acts of intimacy to kissing, caressing, touching and mutual masturbation. However if there is sexual penetration - whether oral, vaginal or anal - take protective measures so that you can minimize the likelihood of transmission of the HIV virus. The best way to go about this is through the proper usage of condoms and lubricants. This includes checking for the expiry date of the condoms, proper handling and tearing of the packaging, as well as the correct method of wearing the condoms with an air reservoir at the tip. At the same time regularly apply water-based lubricants since this will reduce friction during sexual intercourse, thus minimizing the possibility of condom tear and breakage.
Have an open mind
For a happy dating relationship with an HIV positive person it is necessary that you, as the non-infected partner, have an open mind. You not only need to overcome the mental block about physically being with an HIV infected person but also need to shrug off judgmental attitudes. Just because a person has been infected with HIV does not mean that he/she has been sexually promiscuous or doing drugs. The virus could have been transmitted through other sources or unfortunate accidents such as transfusion of contaminated blood. You can broach the subject when on a date with your partner, but do be sensitive and understanding in your approach.