Although HIV infection used to be a death sentence, it’s not that way anymore. Thanks to antiretroviral therapy (ART), people with HIV have a basically normal life expectancy.
However, there’s one aspect of living with HIV that’s definitely not normal, and that’s dating. After finding out that they have HIV, many people are concerned about the impact on their dating life. What is dating like for people with HIV? When should you tell your dating partner about your HIV status? Is there a way for HIV-positive people to specifically meet people with HIV – a dating site for HIV-positive people?
Dating an HIV-negative person if you’re HIV-positive
If you have HIV, dating can still happen in the same ways it does for HIV-negative people. You could meet new dating partners through mutual friends, at events, and on dating sites. It’s certainly possible that you will meet a new dating partner in one of these ways, and that new dating partner might or might not have HIV.
If your partner is HIV-negative, then it’s extremely important that you disclose your HIV status to your partner before you engage in any sexual activity. Kissing is considered safe, so you can safely kiss a new dating partner before telling them that you have HIV. However, before you have any type of sex, including oral, vaginal, or anal sex, you need to let them know that you have HIV. In fact, in some states, it could even be a crime to have sex with someone without telling them that you’re HIV-positive.
There are ways for an HIV-negative person to be protected during sex with an HIV-positive partner. Of course, one way is to use condoms every single time you have any type of sex. These need to be latex or polyurethane condoms; “natural” condoms like lambskin don’t provide protection. Another way is for the HIV-positive person to ensure that they take their meds regularly, to keep their viral load as low as possible.
There’s also a type of medication called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). This involves the HIV-negative partner taking a low dose of HIV medication on a daily basis. PrEP is highly effective – it has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission through sex by 99%. The HIV-negative partner may also want to get an HIV test periodically just for their own peace of mind, even though the risk of transmission is actually very low as long as they follow all the guidelines. You can easily get a home HIV test that allows you to test at home with just a fingerprick, so you won’t worry about the virus having somehow made it through the defenses.
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How can you find an HIV-positive dating partner?
Although it’s certainly possible for an HIV-positive person to have an HIV-negative partner, there are also many people who have HIV and don’t want to worry about it when dating. They would prefer to find dating partners who also have HIV, so there won’t be any worries about transmission. They may want to be able to enjoy condom-free sex with a committed partner.
In fact, there are ways for people with HIV to meet HIV-positive singles. There are now a number of different HIV/AIDS dating sites. This allows you to skip the dreaded “talk” about your HIV status and get straight to dating. It’s hard for us to say which ones are the best HIV dating sites, because there are so many different options, and different ones will serve different types of people. If you do a search for a term like “HIV positive dating site,” “HIV/AIDS dating website,” or “HIV/AIDS dating app,” then you’ll find quite a few different options. You can then narrow it down to the ones that will work best for your dating goals, whether that’s finding casual hookups or looking for a committed partner.
In addition to the dating-specific HIV sites, there are also plenty of places that people with HIV go simply to hang out with each other and get support. For example, there are a number of free HIV chat rooms and social media groups, as well as in-person HIV support groups in many cities. Although these groups may not specifically be designed for dating, they are places where people can meet each other, and this certainly could result in dating.
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HIV and STD Criminalization Laws. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/policies/law/states/exposure.html. Accessed 22 March 2022.
PrEP Facts & HIV Prevention. Society of Behavioral Medicine (2022). https://www.sbm.org/healthy-living/prep-facts–hiv-prevention. Accessed 22 March 2022.
Swipe right: Young people dating and living with HIV. International AIDS Society (2022). https://www.iasociety.org/Membership/IASONEVOICE/Stories/Swipe-right-Young-people-dating-and-living-with-HIV. Accessed 22 March 2022.
Treat HIV. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/effective-interventions/treat/index.html. Accessed 22 March 2022.
Way MT, Ingle SM. Life expectancy of HIV-positive adults: a review. Sex Health 2011 Dec;8(4):526-33. doi: 10.1071/SH11046.