HIV 101: He's Positive, I'm Not — How Do We Deal?

Everyone has questions when they find out they are positive. In this series of posts, here are several of the most common, plus straightforward answers to help you navigate this new life of yours.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

March 17 2014 4:00 AM ET

What you need to know if you’re a mixed (serodiscordant) couple is that you can have a happy and healthy relationship, but like all relationships, it requires work and commitment, because love does not conquer all. The HIV-negative partner may want talk to his or her physician about pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP; research has shown that the anti-HIV drug Truvada reduces the risk of HIV infection in the negative partners of HIV-positive gay men. While some doctors warn that PrEP shouldn’t be the first line of defense against HIV infection, instead recommending regular condom use, many experts recognize that condoms are rarely utilized 100 percent of the time in a relationship. Also, many HIV experts now say that when the HIV-positive partner has an undetectable viral load (which happens with early and consistent drug treatment; see page 38 on finding a doctor) the likelihood of transmitting the virus to a partner is significantly reduced or eliminated. Couples might also want to see a counselor who specializes in coping with HIV. Many HIV-positive people fear spreading the disease to their partners, making sex fraught with tension. Many HIV-negative partners encounter disrespect from friends and family members when the other partner’s status is revealed. A counselor can help you work through those kinds of issues and communicate to each other your anxieties, fears, and needs.

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