Has being diagnosed with HIV ruined my sex drive?

I’ve met a great girl and she’s very supportive, but I’m worried that I just don’t have any libido. Can we ever have a physical relationship?

How does a new diagnosis of HIV affect your sex drive? Since I was diagnosed in December, I just haven’t felt horny. I have met a great girl who I would like to have a relationship with, she has been very supportive and I don’t want to lose her.

After becoming HIV positive, sex can have new meaning. Connotations of illness, danger or a threat to loved ones can alter one’s perceptions of lovemaking. One’s relationship to one’s body can also change, and if this new view includes a negative sense of, for example, being betrayed by one’s physical self, this can also have a subtle detrimental affect on your sexuality. Shame can also play a part, due to the stigma that is still attached to a diagnosis of HIV. Even if such feelings are deeply buried, they can significantly alter one’s libido. Discussing your HIV status, and exploring in detail what it means to both of you in terms of a potential physical relationship, could help assuage some of your deep concerns – so do not try to rush this. Safe eroticism is vital for both of you and does not mean a lukewarm experience: fabulously erotic sex does not even need to include genital contact or penetration. The answer lies in allowing yourself to be more creative and communicative. Your joint erotic imaginations can produce thrilling connections within the boundaries of the pre-agreed levels of safety and risk-taking that are acceptable to you both.

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Alex Vidal