Articles

HIV in your relationship

It can sometimes happen that someone finds out that he or she has HIV, while his or her partner does not. The impact of that news can be different in every relationship. Sometimes your partner can be a fantastic source of support, but the new situation can also be a source of tension. Most couples manage to work it out together. Sometimes your partner needs to get used to the idea, but HIV might also play only a small role if any. It could also be that your sex life will never be the same again and that your HIV will be a reason for ending the relationship. If you discuss your feelings with each other, you can take each other into account more easily. It could be that you feel guilty or that you feel unequal. It can be complicated if your partner has run a risk of getting HIV from you. Some people with HIV feel they have an extra responsibility to make sure their partner will not get HIV from them; others feel their partners have an equal responsibility in that regard. It is not uncommon for people to attribute their relationship problems to HIV. The real question is: how can you be sure your relationship would not eventually have developed the same problems, even without HIV?

Partner also has HIV
If both partners have HIV, they might experience that as being somehow more equal. It could be that you both got it independently of each other, but if there is a chance that one partner got HIV from the other, that can be a source of tension. When two partners find out more or less at the same time that they both have HIV, they often make a sort of deal: ‘Our HIV forms a bonds between us and we are going to take care of each other.’ If the relationship stops working after a while, that bond or promise will have to be broken, and that can be complicated. You might have the feeling that you will never find another partner now that you have HIV.

Earlier agreements radically changed
If one of the partners becomes HIV positive during the relationship, that can radically change whatever earlier agreements the couple might have made in terms of having sex with others outside of their relationship: ‘What do we do now?’ It can be quite difficult to bring up the topic of revising the earlier agreement. Read more about both monogamous and open relationships and the experiences that some people have had with each type.

Count your blessings!
If you are in a good relationship, count your blessings! I often follow patients over many years and I regularly see couples grow apart from each other. It is very special if you have a relationship that continues to work in different areas over a longer period of time: liking each other, having good sex, have good discussions with each other, having day-to-day lives that match each other, going on holidays together.
Luc Gelinck, HIV doctor

 

 

 

 

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