AIDS Affairs : I only have one man, Am I STI free?

August 16, 2016
In this 2012 file photo, children walk with activists in a torch light rally ahead of World AIDS Day in Kolkata, India.

 

Dear Counsellor,

I am in a relationship with only one man. Should I consider myself free from sexually transmitted diseases? Sometimes, in my mind, I wonder if my partner is really faithful as he has said, or if he is just telling me that. I know for sure that I am faithful to him. I was a virgin when I met him, so I can safely call myself a 'one-man gal'. Other times, I just say what I don't know won't hurt me.

One-Man Girl

Dear One-Man Girl,

Even when two people are in a relationship where they are faithful to each other, neither partner can be 100 per cent certain that the other is faithful. Some people are emotionally loyal to their partners and don't consider an occasional physical sexual encounter as an extramarital affair.

To some people, even one fling would not change their self-image, and they would still think of themselves as a faithful partner. Yet that occasional affair or that single fling could have infected the straying partner with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS

It is, therefore, important that you and your partner communicate honestly about the nature and degree of fidelity (faithfulness) you want from one another. If your relationship has been based on a 'what I don't know won't hurt me' understanding, that premise is no longer true.

Even if both of you have been faithful, you should still use a condom for intercourse until you have done a complete check for STIs and you are both given a clean bill of health.

Either of you could be infected with STI before your relationship and don't know (except in your case, where you say you were a virgin before him). After that clean bill of health is ascertained, a decision not to continue or continue using condoms would be

discussed and a decision taken that would protect both you and your partner's sexual health.

Remember that you have a responsibility to protect yourself.

Dear Counsellor,

I often have sex without using a condom because my partner refuses to use one. My problem now is that my partner tested positive for HIV and I tested

negative. He is taking the treatment for AIDS and is doing very well health-wise. He still wants to have unprotected sex because he is now saying that if I should get HIV, I would get it already and moreover he is on treatment.

Counsellor, I really cannot trust him because he tested negative some years before, and we know that he got infected after, based, on the discussion we had. I am now confused and I really don't want to leave him. What do you suggest I do?

Frustrated Wife

Dear Frustrated Wife,

If you cannot persuade your partner to use a condom, then you will want to persuade him to engage in non-penetrative activities with you where you won't be exposed to sexual fluids or blood. You should take some time to discuss this very important matter with him. If you are unable to get through to your partner, then you may want to seek some professional help. Your partner must know that because he is already infected with HIV does not make him immune from other sexually transmitted infections.

The final responsibility is yours to protect your body and your life.

For more information on condom use, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, call toll-free 1-888-991-4444.

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