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Dating an HIV-positive partner

Tuesday, December 03, 2013    

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WOULD you date someone that is HIV positive?

People living with HIV can date and have normal lives.

Twenty-seven-year-old Melissa Duran* says it is something she has considered.

"I have been around the blocks a few times," Duran told Jamaica Observer. "So I am open to dating, and I am not entirely closed off to dating someone who is HIV positive."

However, Duran said her decision to date a man with Human Immunodeficiency Virus would depend on when she finds out about his status.

"If I am already attracted to him and I have developed strong feelings for him, then I would move forward with the relationship," said Duran.

She, however, questioned where a relationship with an HIV-positive man could go, because according to her, "there is only so much you can do with an HIV-positive guy".

Though there is an ever-present stigma attached to people living with the virus, if you are as open as Duran and decide to explore a relationship with an HIV-positive person, here are a few things to consider:

1. The virus cannot be transmitted by what others say or think about people who are HIV positive. There may be whispers, a few stares, especially if your partner is widely known to be infected with the virus, but people will talk.

It is not easy to ignore the stigma attached to people living with the virus, but it is possible to nurture a strong relationship based on the bond created through mutual support.

2. People who know their status and are open with their partners, tend to practice safer sex. Yes, the HIV-positive partner may have a guilty conscience, considering they stand a chance of infecting the other person, while the partner without the virus might worry about contracting the virus. But, essentially, such a union could lead to safer, healthier, longer relationships with trust as the foundation.

3. Using a condom if engaging in a sexual relationship with an HIV-positive person significantly reduces the risk of the virus being transmitted from one partner to the next. The use of antiretroviral and proper monitoring by a medical practitioner will also help to keep tabs on both people, possibly contributing to building more confidence in the relationship and each partner.

A study released in 2008 by the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV-AIDS and published in the Bulletin of Swiss Medicine posited that HIV-positive individuals on effective antiretroviral therapy and without sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are sexually non-infectious. The findings are not conclusive and have not been endorsed internationally, but it does give us something to think about.

* Name changed

— Anika Richards

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