Questions & Answers

What else might gay guys want to know about sex and HIV transmission?

What about other sexually transmitted infections besides HIV, like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or herpes?

How can I have the sex that I want if there are so many ways to transmit HIV and other STIs?

So what kind of sexy stuff can I do that doesn’t have any chance of HIV transmission?

I’m HIV-negative and I’m hooking up with or dating a guy who says he’s HIV-positive — if I have sex with him, does that mean I am going to acquire HIV?

Can poz guys fuck each other bareback?

Do I have to tell the guys I’m fucking that I’m poz?

What about other sexually transmitted infections besides HIV, like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or herpes?

We’ve got a whole page about STIs, how to get tested and treated, and how they affect HIV transmission.

How can I have the sex that I want if there are so many ways to transmit HIV and other STIs?

It depends on the sex you want. Some kinds of sex are really important to some guys, and less so to others. We all deserve to have the sex we want, and there are lots of sexual health strategies guys can use and combine to stay healthy such as condoms, PrEP, PEP and undetectable viral load.

It’s always a good idea to know what your options are and how you plan to use them with your hookups or dates. Check out our looking out for yourself section to sort out what that might look like for you.

There are also plenty of sexy things you and your partner can do that have no chance of HIV transmission. Think about how you can have the sex you want while looking out for yourself, and for each other, at the same time.

So what kind of sexy stuff can I do that doesn’t have any chance of HIV transmission?

Lots of stuff! As long as a bodily fluid isn’t coming into contact with a mucous membrane like those in the ass, mouth, vagina, foreskin, or pee-hole, there isn’t a possibility of HIV transmission. HIV also doesn’t survive long outside of the body or in the open air. Jerking off together, kissing and making out, stripteasing, dry humping, rubbing cocks together, fucking or rubbing the cock between the thighs, buttcheeks, bicep or any other body part without going inside, and anything else without penetration, or fluids otherwise entering the body, are probably fine as long as there are no open sores. There’s plenty of fun to be had that has low or no risk of HIV transmission.

Rimming and fingering also have really low chances of transmitting HIV as long as there are no open sores. Using toys like butt plugs or dildos on yourself has no chance of HIV or STI transmission. If you do share toys, or use fingers on more than one person, covering them with a condom or other barrier for each new hole also has no risk of transmission.

There’s also lots of things guys find sexy that are more mental than physical. Roleplaying, exhibitionism, voyeurism, dressing up, bondage, leather and rubber, and all sorts of other kinks don’t always involve activities with bodily fluids, though they may include that, too. For rougher play that may include breaking the skin, remember that blood can transmit HIV.

Remember that not all of these things are free of the possibility of STI transmission. Some STIs are transmitted when infected skin touches on somebody else’s skin. Others can be prevented by using a condom to prevent fluids from transmitting infections. If a guy has an STI, this can also increases the risk of HIV transmission. Read up on STIs to learn more about how to protect yourself, and get tested for STIs often.

I’m HIV-negative and I’m hooking up with or dating a guy who says he’s HIV-positive — if I have sex with him, does that mean I am going to acquire HIV?

Not at all. Couples or sex partners where one guy is poz and the other is neg are very common. Guys can use a number of strategies to prevent the transmission of HIV such as PrEP, undetectable viral load and condoms.

Can poz guys fuck each other bareback?

If two guys are sure they’re HIV-positive, they may choose to fuck each other without condoms, since neither of their HIV statuses will change. Lots of poz guys already do this. However, there is still a possibility of picking up other STIs.

For some guys, the chance of STIs is worth the pleasure or excitement of having sex without a condom. However, STI rates in gay men are a big problem right now, and some of them can cause serious health complications, especially if they aren’t treated. If you’re poz and you don’t want to use condoms, it’s a good idea to test regularly for STIs, for your own health and for the health of other guys you’re hooking up with.

Although it is extremely rare, there is also such a thing as a “superinfection.” This is when an HIV-positive guy gets infected with another strain of HIV, possibly one that doesn’t respond to the medications he is on. A condom would prevent the transmission of this other strain. However, superinfection is not common.

Check out our section on sero-sorting for more information on the question of sex between HIV-positive guys.

Do I have to tell the guys I’m fucking that I’m poz?

It can be very hard to discuss HIV status, so there are a few things you can do to decide whether and how you might disclose.

Some guys wonder if they’ll get into legal trouble if they don’t share their HIV status. In Canada, you’re not legally required to disclose if you’re using condoms and you’re undetectable and having vaginal sex. There haven’t been clear legal guidelines about situations involving anal sex.

If you are interested in what legal experts are saying about this issue, HALCO has a very thorough legal guide about HIV disclosure that may be helpful. CATIE also has some useful information about HIV disclosure.

If someone is giving you a really hard time or talking about the legal implications of disclosure or non-disclosure, you may want to give them HALCO’s website or phone number. They will explain why bringing the law into this conversation isn’t a great idea for anyone involved.