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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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Sex and Intimacy With HIV

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD

If you or your partner has HIV, know this: With treatment and protection, you can have a long, healthy life together -- and have good sex together, too.

Make Sex Safer

You have to use protection, whether you're HIV-positive or you're in a mixed-status couple, in which one person has HIV and the other doesn't.

Use condoms every time you have sex. Unprotected sex is the most common way of spreading the virus. Male and female condoms dramatically lower the chances of transmitting HIV.

Use protection with oral sex, too. Oral sex can still transmit HIV. Always use a condom or dental dam.

Cut other risk factors. Transmitting HIV is more likely if you have multiple sex partners, have other STDs, or use injectable drugs.

What about kissing? Since HIV is not in saliva, most kissing is perfectly safe. There's a remote risk that if you or your partner had a mouth sore, French kissing could spread HIV. But it's extremely unlikely, experts say.

What about everything else? Remember that HIV is only in certain bodily fluids -- like blood, semen, and vaginal and anal secretions. To infect someone else, that fluid has to get into the person's body, usually through a mucus membrane or cut.

So, other contact, like cuddling and hugging are safe. And you can satisfy each other sexually in safer ways, using your hands or your bodies.

What if you and your partner both have HIV? You still need to use protection. You could catch a different strain of HIV from your partner, which could make your disease worse or mean that you need to change medications.

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