Step 1 - Talk about it

Talk to your partner about not using condoms, the kind of sex (if any) you are going to have with other men and how you’ll handle any problems that might come up. Once you come to an understanding with each other and if you still want to stop using condoms, you can then move on to Step 2.

Step 2 -Have an HIV Test

Go with your partner for a sexual health check including an HIV test. If the results of those tests come back negative you can then move on to Step 3, but remember to keep using condoms in the meantime.

Step 3 - Have another HIV test

Go with your partner for another HIV test at least 6 weeks later. This second test is needed because the antibodies that the HIV test looks for can take 6 to 12 weeks to show up. (Talk to your doctor about the time frame when you get tested the first time.) If neither of you has had unsafe sex during that time, the second test can confirm that you are HIV negative. If you both still want to stop using condoms, you can then move on to Step 4.

Step 4 - Make an agreement

Make a clear agreement about sex with other men and trust each other to keep to the agreement. It’s important that you promise to tell each other immediately about any unsafe sex that happens outside the relationship and how you want to handle it. This should include using condoms and repeating steps 2 and 3. Talk regularly with your partner about what you have agreed. Also include in your agreement a plan for having regular sexual health checks.

Make a clear agreement about sex with other men and trust each other to keep the agreement.

Why is this stuff hard to talk about?

Because it can raise uncomfortable issues. It’s not just you!

Although sex and sexual attraction are natural, they can be embarrassing to discuss in a practical, matter-of-fact way because of the emotions that are attached to them.

Similarly, talking about HIV can be difficult. It may mean confronting particular fears including the possibility that one of you may be (or may become) infected with HIV; and the fear of rejection.

The good news is that putting in the effort to talk and work through the issues can bring rewards. This is a chance to show that you are prepared to talk about the hard stuff because of how important you are to each other, and committed to the success of the relationship.

Communication is the key to the success of any relationship. Understanding each other’s thoughts, fears and desires will mean you know each other better.

Is it ever too late to make an agreement?

No. It’s never too late to make an agreement.

Even if you’ve fucked without condoms (once, a few times, or a lot) it’s still worth making an agreement. The best thing is to acknowledge the situation and adapt the advice on the previous pages to your particular circumstances.

First of all, don’t panic! It’s important not to assume that the damage has already been done or to just carry on and hope for the best.

If you decide you want to continue not using condoms, or if you want to stop using them (even sometimes), you’ll need to have an HIV test.

If either of you has had any other partners in the previous 6 weeks, you will need to have two tests, following the steps described on the previous pages. You also need to discuss your desires and expectations around sex with other partners.

Men who have agreements are more likely to be satisfied with their relationship.

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