Tools For Loving
Okay, it seems like you’ve met the right person. They are lovely, kind, generous, gorgeous, and funny. You can't help but to tell your friends about them. There is something genuine in them that you admire. They really do show you love when you least expect it. You care for them.
The intimacy is off the hook as well, both in and out of bed. They’ve told you they are living with HIV and everything is great. They take their medications every day and you may be taking PrEP too in support of your relationship.
What is a mixed-status couple?
This type of relationship has a fancy title in HIV prevention circles. It is called serodiscordant. Serodiscordant couples, or mixed-status couples, are ones in which one partner has HIV and the other does not.
Couples in these relationships have three unique tools for them as they grow their relationship. The HIV positive partner on antiretroviral therapies, the HIV negative partner on PrEP, and condoms are a powerful trifecta of prevention.
Effective HIV treatment with antiretroviral therapy
These three things are powerful because, first off, HIV positive people on antiretroviral therapies have very little virus circulating in the blood. They have such a low amount of virus that they are virtually undetectable and pose a very low risk of passing on the virus.
However, one needs to be consistent in their regimen and regularly getting care from health providers. So in this case, effective HIV treatment is prevention. Remember, undetectable = untransmittable.
Taking and adhering to PrEP
The second tool is PrEP. Right now, Truvada is the most widely used drug for PrEP, although other drugs have been approved by the FDA and might soon be available to consumers. PrEP is an amazing tool that, when taken daily, can reduce the risk of transmission by about 99% according to the CDC.1 However, just like antiretroviral therapy, the effectiveness of the treatment corresponds directly with adherence to the daily regimen.
The third tool is condom use. Now to cover all the bases including STIs, condom use is still the only method to prevent other viral and bacterial infections from being transmitted during sex. This is why it is still so important to see a healthcare provider or go to the clinic at least once a year to get tested. Maybe this could be the day to walk into the clinic hand-in-hand and recommit to each other’s health by getting tested together. Then go out to dinner, and end with a romantic evening at home with your partner.
Tools for intimacy and dating
The tools at our disposal are powerful and allow for healthy people to develop close relationships regardless of HIV status. It will still take time to educate the broader public. However, whether you are HIV positive or negative, we all need love and intimacy in this life. Let’s continue to remember the tools we have at our disposal and continue to live!
Do you and your partner have stories to share about being a mixed-status couple? Let me know below.
Do you live in the Southern US?