I'd like to preface this letter by reminding readers that I am not a doctor or licensed counselor of any kind. I am simply a person with opinions and information to share with readers. When I received this e-mail, I personally responded to the man who wrote me. Below is an edited version of the conversation:

Question Submitted by Reader---

I had protected sex with my friend's wife, and while we were having sex, the condom tore. She has two kids and she says she doesn't have HIV. What should I do? Will I get HIV? I'm a little afraid.

Nathan's Response---

Starting from the top of the list, it's good that you were using a condom. Safe sex is very important every time. Unfortunately, condoms can break. When this happens, action needs to be taken and it needs to be taken quickly.

The first thing you should do is get to a doctor, and it's ideal that you go within four hours of possible exposure. You'll need to discuss this at length so you and your doctor can determine if you need to start taking medications. If you do, this is called PEP (post-exposure prevention), in which you will be given a series of anti-HIV medications. The meds are very strong and can make you sick. You will have to take it for a full month. Because of the strength of this medication, doctors only recommend it in emergency situations.

A doctor will be able to help you decide whether this is right for you. I think it would be very wise to talk with one and be completely honest and upfront. Your doctor cannot recommend the right thing to do unless all the facts are given.

I don't want to alarm you, but I do think it's important to understand the risks. However, a doctor needs to be the one who ultimately guides you through this.

Now, let's move on to the other issues here.

You stated that you are having sex with your friend's wife, who is also a mother of two children. By stating that she is married and has kids, I'm sensing that you think maybe she's "safe" to have sex with. Please do not fall for that stereotype.

HIV is not a virus that only infects certain types of people. Anyone, regardless of their gender, race, age, or sexual orientation can be infected with HIV. The fact that you and she are having an affair behind your friend's back is very alarming.

Let's say worst case scenario. Let's say she had sex with a man who was HIV positive, and the condom broke, and she became infected. Now let's say she had sex with her husband, who didn't wear a condom because it was his wife. Now let's say he's infected. An innocent bystander. This could shatter their lives, their children's lives, and everyone involved.

This is why communication and honesty is so important in all relationships. If she wasn't having an affair, she wouldn't be putting herelf, her partner(s), or her husband at risk.

Do you see it from my angle? I don't want to come off as preachy or judgemental, but I think it's important to point out all the risks involved with this situation.

And let me go in a completely different direction from a minute. Let's say nobody became HIV positive here, but since we are dealing with a man and a woman, let's say she became pregnant with your baby. Again, a terribly complicated situation

Bottom line: This situation is unhealthy on so many levels. It is toxic and dangerous, and somehow somebody is going to get hurt.

For the short term, I recommend you talk with a doctor about your risks of exposure. For the long term, this is a situation you need to get out of because nothing good is going to come from it.

Best of luck to you. I wish you health, happiness, and well-being. Please take care of yourself.

Do you have a question for Nathan West? All questions are completely confidential and your identity will not be shared with anyone. To ask a question, please write to editor@outvoices.us.

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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Out & About Newspaper. The opinions or views expressed are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed physician or mental health professional. Out & About Newspaper nor Nathan West is responsible for the outcome or results of following advice in any given situation. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. You are completely responsible for your actions and neither O&AN nor Nathan West accepts any liability for any situation in your life past, present or future. By submitting a letter here, you grant O&AN and Nathan West permission to publish it in print, on this site or elsewhere. However, be assured that your letter will only be identified with an anonymous descriptive signature such as "Closeted at Work" or your first name. If you prefer, you may change your name in your letter.

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