HIV positive relationships

By Drum Digital
01 December 2015

Maintaining any relationship takes hard work and commitment from both partners and it’s no different when one or both partners are HIV-positive.

By Vida Li-Sik

Maintaining any relationship takes hard work and commitment from both partners and it’s no different when one or both partners are HIV-positive.

WHEN BOTH PARTNERS ARE HIV-POSITIVE

Even if both of you are HIV-positive, safe sex must be a priority and open communication is key.

Practise safe sex. Condoms, although not 100% foolproof, can protect you from re-infection with another strain of HIV and from sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). You should be tested for STIs every three months.

Generally, men are reluctant to use condoms. Say to your partner, “I want to use condoms for both of us to prevent re-infection. I don’t want to put either of us in danger.”

Communicate. Talk about the physical and emotional challenges you are experiencing. One partner may keep their feelings to themselves because they don’t want to worry the other. But, sharing what you’re going through with your partner can bring you closer and can make them feel valued and not excluded from your life.

Be supportive. Help each other to take your medication on time and to eat healthily. Exercise together if you can and do things you enjoy to keep up your spirits.

WHERE ONE PARTNER IS HIV-POSITIVE

For mixed-status couples, the possibility of HIV infection is a constant reality. Trust is important, as is being faithful.

Disclosure: There is still a stigma attached to HIV and not everyone has the correct facts about the condition. Keep this in mind before you tell someone your status. Your HIV status is a private and confidential matter and should be shared only with people who you trust and are comfortable sharing it with.

When you see your relationship with someone develop to the stage where intimacy is a possibility, then disclosure becomes necessary. It’s the responsible thing to do and gives the other person the choice of whether to continue with the relationship or not.

Here is how to reduce your chances of passing on the virus:

* Talk openly and often about safer sex practices and HIV prevention. Get information and counselling from your local healthcare providers and HIV/AIDS organisations.

* Protect your partner against HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections by using condoms correctly whenever you have sex.

*Lower the risk of transmitting HIV to your partner by being on ARVs. Taking all your medications, on time, will help lower the viral load in your bodily fluids and decrease the chance of you passing on the virus.

* Support your partner. If you are the HIV-negative partner, make sure your partner takes their medication and eats healthily. Stay up-to-date about pre-exposure prophylaxis (HIV medicine you can take to prevent infection) and make sure you are tested before and after use.

*Get tested. Health experts advise taking an HIV test at least once a year, and in some cases even more frequently.

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