Dating, sex, relationships and children
When you are HIV-positive you can go out on a date, have a relationship, have sex and have children like anyone else. And did you know that you can have sex without a condom in a monogamous relationship if the virus is undetectable?
Dating and sex
Women in particular are afraid that they cannot find a new partner and can no longer be sexually active if they become infected with HIV. And it is also often thought that you can no longer have children when you are HIV-positive. Fortunately this is another myth; it is not true. You can have sex and relationships when you are HIV-positive. By using a condom you can prevent others from getting infected with HIV and you prevent yourself or your partner from getting pregnant. Having children is very important in almost all cultures, especially for women.
HIV and having children
In almost all cultures it is very important to have children, especially for women.
When you are HIV-positive it is very well possible to have a healthy, uninfected baby. This is very good news. The chance of passing HIV on to your baby during pregnancy or delivery is less than 2% when you use HIV medication. Also, the process of sperm washing can be applied to remove the virus from the individual sperms so that they can be used for insemination. If you are HIV-positive and you (or your partner) are considering getting pregnant, please discuss this with your HIV specialist nurse.
Sex without a condom?
When your treatment with HIV medication is successful the amount of virus in your blood (viral load) will decrease. After six months at most the viral load can no longer be measured and has become undetectable. This means that the virus can no longer be found in your blood, even with the most sophisticated equipment. Your immune system will recover and it is almost impossible to pass HIV on to others. In certain situations you can then have sex without a condom.
The Swiss Statement
Already in 2008 Swiss experts issued the statement that HIV can no longer be transmitted if certain conditions are met. As they were the first to go public with this opinion, this statement has become known internationally as ‘the Swiss Statement’. The Dutch advice is largely in line with the Swiss Statement.
One of the two has HIV
A relationship in which one has HIV and the other is HIV-negative is called a serodiscordant relationship. Are you in such a relationship? In order to be able to give advice about condom use it is important to know whether you are in a monogamous relationship or in a non-monogamous (open) relationship.
In a monogamous relationship
Based on the Dutch advice for HIV discordant couples in a steady relationship a condom does not have to be used under the following conditions:
- The virus cannot be found in your blood and has been undetectable for at least six months
- Your last viral load measurement was no longer than six months ago
- You take your HIV medication every day
- You are in a monogamous relationship (to rule out the possibility that either of you have an STI)
- You discuss together with the HIV internist whether you meet all the requirements