HIV-positive people have partners who are HIV-negative (these are sometimes
referred to as ‘serodiscordant’ relationships).
between people of different HIV status are sometimes thought of only in terms
of sex and the risk of HIV transmission.
is important to many intimate relationships – but few relationships are based
on sex alone in the longer term. The sexual side of relationships may change
significantly over time and its importance may vary for partners.
one way or another, having HIV is likely to affect the way you and your partner
feel about sex, and have implications for the type of sex you have. The
presence of any illness in a relationship can affect sex. This is especially
the case with HIV because it can be transmitted through sexual contact.
therefore makes very good sense for you and your partner to talk about this.
You may wish to discuss how you feel about having sex together when there’s a
risk of HIV being passed on, and how this may affect your intimacy, desire and
also makes good sense to talk about ways of preventing your partner getting HIV.
people find it difficult to talk about sex, even with the person who is closest
to them. If this is the case, you might want to discuss your concerns with
someone at your HIV clinic, GP surgery or a support organisation. This may help
you clarify your thoughts and what you’d like to say.
couples counselling can give you a chance to talk about difficult issues with
your partner with the help of a trained counsellor. Your clinic or a local HIV
organisation may be able to arrange this. In the UK, if you’re not sure where to
start, you could contact the Terrence Higgins Trust helpline, THT Direct, on
0845 12 21 200. You can also visit our online e-atlas for information on local
services and organisations all over the world.
good way of preventing HIV transmission is to use condoms – used properly and
consistently, they also prevent the transmission of other sexually transmitted
infections, and can prevent unplanned pregnancies.
condoms well is a solution for some couples, but others find it difficult to
use condoms all the time or at all, or choose not to.
might resolve some problems with using condoms by talking to your partner about
it. You might also find it helpful to talk to someone at your clinic, such as a
health adviser. There may be practical problems with using condoms that are
easy to resolve. For example, some people find that standard male condoms break
because they are too small, or slip off because they are too big, and trying
different sizes of condoms might solve these problems. Using female condoms or
different types of lubricants can vary and improve the experience of using
condoms. Using female condoms can also give women more control over ensuring a
condom is used.
you are concerned that there may have been a risk of HIV exposure (perhaps a
condom has broken or come off), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is available.
difficulties with using condoms are sometimes more connected to feelings about
HIV, trust and intimacy, and talking through your feelings with your partner,
or a professional such as a health adviser or counsellor might help in these
you are not using condoms, it’s important that you both understand and accept
the possible risks and have considered the impact on both of you if your
partner were to contract HIV. There’s a lot of debate at the moment about how
infectious people with HIV are if they are taking HIV treatment and have an
undetectable viral load. The section on infectiousness covers this topic in
partner is HIV-negative your clinic may be able to provide a starter pack of post-exposure
prophylaxis (PEP) for use if a condom breaks or comes off.