We are in a new age with a new problem. The advent of AIDS has changed sexual mores drastically. The fact that medical science does not have the answers to this devastating illness is distressing and makes our ability to advise anyone on how to avoid AIDS extremely difficult. If you are in a monogamous relationship with no outside sexual contact by either partner, you have no cause for fear. But if you are not sure of that, or if you wish to enter into a new relationship, we understand the real possibility of danger that gives rise to your fears.
Evaluation of epidemiologic information about AIDS suggests that women currently in the perimenopausal or postmenopausal years show an extremely low incidence of AIDS. This finding may apply to the group as a whole, but how do you interpret it as an individual? With great caution!
Because men and women are both fearful of AIDS, they are willing to talk about it. Communication between you and your partner-to-be is of paramount importance. You need to discuss your sexuality and sexual history and raise the question of a meaningful, honest, one-to-one relationship that you hope will last, at least for a while. Allow your relationship to develop, and when sexual activity becomes a possibility, do not hesitate to discuss your fear of AIDS.
The simplest way to be sure that your partner is not going to infect you is for both of you to have an AIDS screening test. It does put an end to spontaneous first-time sex. But, if it is going to reassure you as you develop a longstanding monogamous relationship, then have the test done. The chances of receiving a positive result are very low; the chances of reassuring you are extremely high.
Without AIDS testing, and the knowledge that your partner is going to remain faithful to you alone, there are other steps that should be used in all future sexual encounters. Safer sex will not only help prevent exposure to AIDS but will help safeguard you against the whole range of so-called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Safer sex allows all your usual activities and feelings, as long as there is no exchange of body fluids. It essentially means using condoms during vaginal and oral sex with any partner that has not been proven to be free and clear of AIDS, and avoiding direct contact with any body fluids.
This new sexual environment places a new and heavy responsibility on you. Only you can ask the right questions of your potential sexual partner. And you must ask! Your health and your life may depend on it. Otherwise, your only alternative at this time is to choose celibacy, which may not be your preference. We suggest that you ask the right questions, insist on honest and open answers, and only then permit the relationship to move forward sexually.