Congratulations on making the decision to protect yourself, while also being open to dating someone living with HIV. Asking this question shows your desire to be educated about HIV, but also shows you won’t let the stigma of the virus dictate you potentially falling in love, or into bed. The short answer to your question is: yes! Here's a bit more you should know.
Assuming that your potential partner is on antiretroviral treatment, the transmission risk involved with getting naked and getting it on is actually pretty small. A recent clinical trial called PARTNER, where couples of mixed status (one partner being HIV-positive and undetectable, and the other is HIV-negative) engaged in more than 30,000 sex acts without using condoms. Guess how many transmissions happened? Zero! Not one! The take away is: treating HIV with the meds available these days is effective in preventing new transmissions. (That isn't to say that condoms don't matter - safer sex is key! Read more about that in The Ultimate Guide to Safer Sex.)
In addition to antiretroviral treatment and good, old fashioned barrier methods, there is a new remarkable FDA-approved daily pill, PrEP Truvada, that is up to 92% effective at preventing HIV infection, according to the CDC. It requires taking a pill daily, along with regular blood monitoring. This has really changed the sex lives of couples that are of different HIV statuses.
Do What You Are Comfortable Doing
The main thing to remember is that choosing to be intimate is a decision that you make when you are ready. Don’t rush it! Sex is supposed to be fun, hot, amazing, great, intense and more; but, if you are worried about anything, it loses that appeal. So be honest with your potential partner. Most individuals living with HIV will appreciate the opportunity to hear your concerns and you may give them reason to share even more information about HIV. Nerds can certainly be hot, in my opinion.
If you think that an HIV-negative individual deciding to date someone HIV-positive is pretty remarkable, remember that those living with HIV that are undetectable on medication aren’t really who you should worry about - it’s people who think and say they are “negative," but don’t realize they are actually infected. According to the CDC, about one in seven people who are living with HIV are unaware of their status. Your partner knows they are positive and they are taking care of their health condition, right? That's a very good thing. So, get educated and be safe - and have fun!
To find an HIV screening center near you, click here.