Negotiated Safety

Lots of guys in committed relationships eventually confront the question:

Can we, should we have sex without condoms?

If one partner is HIV negative and the other HIV positive, we strongly encourage you to always use condoms, particularly for anal sex and vaginal sex.  If both partners are HIV positive it's also not a good idea because they can give each other STD's (that can send viral load through the roof) or different HIV strains (that could be resistant to treatment). But what if both guys are HIV negative? Sex without condoms is an option many long-term queer couples are choosing. The practice even has a name: Negotiated Safety. It's an important option for gay men to have. But it's definitely not for everyone. There are risks. It shouldn't be taken lightly.

Step One:
Talk about this decision and what it means for your relationship. Why do each of you want to do this? What do you need from your partner to feel secure about eliminating condoms?

Step Two:
Both of you get tested for HIV together. Make a date of it. If you both test negative, keep using condoms with each other and with any sex outside the relationship. Keep up a dialogue about how you're going to make this decision a success.

Step Three:
After three months get tested again. If both results are still negative, you're good to go on to the final step.

Step Four:
Come to a clear understanding about sex inside and outside your relationship. Some agreements might include:

  1. no condoms together,
  2. no anal sex outside the relationship,
  3. all anal sex outside the relationship is with a condom, or
  4. no sex outside the relationship.
Not everything goes as planned and one or both of you may slip-up. If this happens, it doesn't necessarily mean the relationship is over. But you've got to be honest about it. Your partner's life could depend on it. You may chose to decide to start the process anew, maybe with a counselor to prevent future slip-ups.

We offer our sincere thanks and due credit to Gay City from which most of this text for this page was borrowed.