When most people talk about their ‘sex life’ they’re talking about the actual physical act of having sex. But your sex life isn’t just about having sex. It involves how you feel about yourself and your sexuality, how you feel about your body, your desire to have sex and being touched and loved. Having HIV can impact on all these things, especially if you have recently been diagnosed.

"For the first few months after I was diagnosed, I couldn’t get my head round sex at all. At first it was so weird a concept to me that I avoided it totally. Then when eventually I tried, I couldn’t get a hard on. This really started to play on my mind so I spoke to my doctor about it and he referred me to a sexual health counsellor. These sessions did help sort things out in my head, and now I feel like I’m back to my old self again." (Jim, 28)

We’re all different and there is no right or “normal” way to act or feel about your sex life. In fact if you think back over your own life, the type of sex you’ve had, the frequency of sex, the numbers of partners you’ve had will all have changed from time to time. And your sex life will continue to change. It would have changed whether or not you acquired HIV.

However you do have HIV, and while this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great sex life, there are additional complications that your HIV status may cause.

The impact of diagnosis may well have left you shocked and very emotional, and this can lead to you losing interest in sex, or on the other hand wanting more sex than before. We discuss solutions to these problems in the section on problems with sex.

Worries about infecting other people may make it difficult for you to know how you can have the sex that you want. We discuss these issues and suggest some solutions in the section on your sexual partners. If you want information on safer sex, go to GMFA’s sex and sexual health website. This site has been written to include information for both positive and negative men. If you don’t find the information you are looking for there, let us know.

You may also feel that now you have HIV, there isn’t anything worse that can happen to you. Unfortunately that simply isn’t true. The impact of becoming infected with other STIs can be more severe when you have HIV and you can also become infected with more than one strain of HIV. We discuss these issues in the section on protecting yourself. Also, there are legal implications to infecting others with HIV. We discuss this issue in the section HIV transmission and the law.