Having the talk

What can you say to get the conversation going about sexual health?

There is no perfect way to bring these things up, since every guy is different, and HIV can be hard to talk about. Here are a few suggestions that might help you start the conversation.

“Babe, did you know…?”

Sometimes talking about the way HIV or STIs are transmitted, or a recent study or statistic you’ve seen can be a way of talking about the sex you want without making it seem so immediate.

“Hey, can I ask you something?”

It seems like asking permission, but starting with an offer to talk about stuff is a way of showing that you value his thoughts and input. If you ask without any warning, guys might get defensive or feel attacked.

“Remember when we/they/so-and-so was talking about HIV?”Speech bubbles

If you are hooking up with someone that you hang out with sometimes, maybe you’ve had conversations about HIV in groups where you didn’t feel the need to talk about your own status or questions. Pointing back at a shared experience or conversation puts you on the same level to talk about it some more.

“I don’t know how to say this, but I know that I want to…”

Sometimes admitting that it’s hard to say something is the best way to make sure you say it. Whoever you’re talking to will make sure to listen when they know that it’s not easy for you, and hopefully they’ll reassure you.

Ask for what you want.

If you want to use condoms, asking for them can start the conversation you want to have. Some guys might not use condoms because they’re on PrEP, they have an undetectable viral load, they don’t like them, or they assume your HIV status. If you want to use condoms and he doesn’t, you may have to ask yourself if you’re okay with not having sex with him after all, for the sake of your peace of mind.

Maybe you’re not into condoms, and that becomes an issue with the guy you’re hooking up with. Talk about what you can do that will make you both feel good — you can respect your different approaches while still having fun.

“This is so hot, so…” or “I want to, but”…

There are ways to make conversation a part of the action rather than a pause in the action. If you’re into what’s going on, but want to bring something up before you go further, you can talk about how good something feels as a transition into a talking moment. Using “but” can sound like disappointment to someone, but saying “so” and “and” might make chatting feel like part of what’s already going on.

“How’s that?” or “Is this OK?”

Asking a guy how something feels or whether he likes it can make sure you’re both getting the best out of the experience. It can also create a moment where someone can mention important stuff like their status, whether they’re on PrEP or have an undetectable viral load, or whether they’d like to use condoms. Saying “how does that feel” might be a bit sexier than “is this OK?” which can make it sound like you’re not into it, but both are ways to open a dialogue.