All you need to know about discordant couples
At the beginning of every new relationship, it is advisable to get an HIV test for all partners involved. What happens if your partner is HIV positive and you are HIV negative?
Is it automatically a deal-breaker? Is it the end of the relationship? It doesn’t have to be.
Here is the good news;
The relationship doesn’t have to end. It is possible for someone living with HIV to be in a relationship with an HIV-negative person without transmitting HIV to them. If you decide to move on with the relationship, you will be called a discordant couple.
A discordant couple is like any other normal couple. The only difference is that one partner is living with HIV and the other is HIV-negative.
HIV prevention among discordant couples
There are different ways to ensure you/ your partner are prevented from getting HIV. This includes:
Using treatment as prevention
For the positive partner: Taking HIV treatment every day means you can achieve an undetectable status and this prevents the spread of HIV through sex, to your sexual partner. Undetectable means the amount of HIV virus in your body is reduced to the point that it eliminates the risk of transmitting HIV through sex. Undetectable equals untransmittable. This is called U=U. Remember that HIV is still in your body and being undetectable doesn’t prevent other sexually transmitted infections.
For the negative partner: You may utilize HIV treatment called PrEP that you may use. PrEP is an HIV prevention option that works by taking one pill every day. PrEP is pre-exposure prophylaxis. When taken every day, PrEP can provide a high level of protection against HIV.
For both: Practice safe sex. Whether or not you have achieved undetectable status remember to always use condoms with your partner to protect you from HIV, STIs, and pregnancy. If you are planning to have a baby talk to your doctor about the options available to you and remember to follow all the steps to prevent transmission to the baby.
What can you do as a couple?
- We understand that this may be difficult but you need to support each other in this new journey of being a discordant couple. This may be emotionally, physically if one of you falls ill, psychologically, and even socially
- If possible, you may want to join a discordant couple or a psycho-social support group, where challenges and experiences are shared. Check organizations that focus on HIV/AIDS for connections. These will help you realize that you are not alone. It will also enable you to identify people you can reach out to in case you need more information
- Remember to seek the help of a counselor so that they can help you address your questions, fears, and concerns.
- Talk to your health care provider if you and your partner have any concerns about HIV transmission.