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Category: Relationship Health

14
Jan

Sero-discordant Coupling: Looking after each other in Pos-Neg relationships

A Serodiscordant (sero-discordant) or magnetic relationship is one in which one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative. This contrasts with seroconcordant relationships in which both partners are of the same HIV status (i.e. both are HIV positive or both are HIV negative).

 

Serodiscordant couples face numerous issues not faced by seroconcordant couples, including facing a decision as to what level of sexual activity is comfortable for them, knowing that practicing safer sex reduces but does not eliminate the risk of transmission to the HIV negative partner. There are also potential psychological issues arising out of taking care of a sick partner, and survivor guilt. Financial strains may also be more accentuated as one partner becomes ill and potentially less able or unable to work.

 

Research involving serodiscordant couples has offered insights into how the virus is passed and how individuals who are HIV positive may be able to reduce the risk of passing the virus to their partner.

Here are some of the most recent information and resources regarding sero-discordant coupling.

 

SeroDisco2

 

Is safe sex for gay men in serodiscordant relationships more than just condoms? (pdf)

 

There are no stupid questions say, Nurse Pam (pdf)

26
Jul

Communication – Overcoming Dating Barriers

iStock_000001341102Small“I just know that if it comes out positive I’m going to be alone and lonely for the rest of my life.”

 

As I looked at the young man across from me who spoke those words as he waited for the results of his HIV test, I realized how many times I’d heard that same sentiment – both from persons waiting for their results and from clients that found out their HIV+ status some time ago.  The fear of being lonely and alone is one that most individuals can relate to.  In the search for a relationship and working on improving a relationship, there are always barriers and issues to work on and through.  HIV is just one of those barriers.  But, you know what the most important thing about barriers is?  They can be overcome.

 

In all relationships, communication and knowing your partner are the key factors in overcoming barriers.  Talking about finances, decisions with children, education choices, health choices and all sorts of other life events and factors is immensely important and should be a part of all healthy relationships.

 

As antiretroviral medicines have increased in effectiveness over the years, HIV+ individuals are living long and healthy lives.  As health increases, so does the number of healthy serodiscordant relationships.  Serodiscordant relationships are those where one partner is HIV+ and the other is HIV-.  The term serodiscordant originates from the word “seroconversion”, which is the medical term for becoming HIV positive, and the word “discordant”, which means “at odds”.  These relationships have been able to survive for years with the HIV- person maintaining that status.  Individuals remaining adherent to medication and maintaining undetectable viral loads have a much, much lower chance of transmitting the virus to a partner.  So, when you’re getting involved with a partner who has disclosed their HIV+ status, ask them about their viral load.  Ask them about their medication adherence.  Those are the keys.  Ask.  Communicate.

 

In any relationship, there are many, many things to discuss.  Specifics to discuss in a relationship are as unique as each relationship itself; however, there are some commonalities in all relationships.  We all need to discuss our emotional health in a relationship – talk about our fears of loss and grief if something happens to one of the partners.  We all need to discuss sex – what are both partners comfortable with?  How do we keep safe?  Ask. Communicate.

 

Fears of being lonely and alone are natural and experienced my most individuals; fear of being lonely and alone solely because of your HIV status?  That’s the one that shouldn’t need to exist.  All individuals deserve respect and love and to find that person that makes them happy.  People fall in love with an individual, not a health status.  HIV is just that, a health status, a barrier that can be overcome.  Know your partner, communicate with your partner; those are the keys to any relationship.

 

Related post: Sero-discordant coupling: Looking after each other in a Pos-Neg relationships.

31
Aug

I’m In a Relationship: We Don’t Use Condoms!

Many of us have accepted condoms as part of our sex life when we’re having casual sex outside of relationships, but it’s not unusual for guys who usually use condoms to stop using them when they get serious in a relationship.

 

Whether the relationship is monogamous or not, some guys feel that they’re willing to accept the risk of not using condoms with the person they’re in a relationship with, especially if they have an agreement about what kind of sex happens outside of the relationship. This is sometimes called ‘negotiated safety’.
When you agree to give up condoms, you’re also giving up some control over managing your own risk. That requires having a lot of trust in your partner.

 

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering negotiated safety.

  • Talk about it first. A decision to drop condom use in your relationship requires open and honest talk about what kind of relationship each partner truly wants, and discussion about each other’s HIV status, now and in the future.
  • Condomless sex is not an expectation in any relationship, regardless of length, seriousness or commitment. Don’t feel pressured into giving up condoms if you don’t want to.
  • Don’t feel pressured into a type of relationship you don’t want either. Don’t pressure your partner into a relationship he doesn’t want, whether it’s monogamous or non-monogamous. Be aware what an abusive relationship looks like, and that most people in abusive relationships deny it. Click Here for more information.
  • Make your agreement with your partner clear and practical in terms of what kind of sex is allowed and with whom, and what consequences there will be that are realistic for both partners.
  • Get tested for HIV and other STIs. Be sure you’re making this decision based on the most up-to-date information. Keep getting tested on a regular basis.
  • Know all the risks. Maybe your agreement includes condom use with others only when you’re fucking. That reduces your risk for HIV, but you’re still at risk for other STIs that can be transmitted through oral sex.
  • Be prepared to start using condoms again. You might break your agreement with your partner. You might do something risky. You might have sex with others even though you agreed not to. In this situation, you’ll need to find a way to tell him so you can both re-negotiate your safety. So talk to your partner about what you’ll do if either one of you slips up, or suspects that he has an STI.
  • Breaking an agreement doesn’t mean the relationship is over. Be willing to extend the same understanding to your partner that you would expect extended to yourself. If your partner tells you that he has broken your agreement, it could be because he cares about you and doesn’t want to put you at risk.
  • You might not know what your partner is actually doing. Sometimes we make assumptions that our partners are monogamous or non-monogamous. Sometimes we break agreements. Sometimes he won’t tell you. Are you willing to accept the risk?

Gay and bi guys have pioneered new ways of thinking about sexual and romantic relationships. Whether a guy wants to be monogamous or non-monogamous, neither is a reflection of his commitment to his relationship. Some guys find it difficult to sustain monogamous relationships over the long-term, so opening up the relationship to other sexual partners can be a way for them to preserve the relationship.

 

Source:  The Sex You Want