How Can I Help My HIV+ Partner?
There’s a ton of literature out there and many professionals that can speak to you at length about the ways to support someone who is dealing with being HIV positive. I’m not going to go into all of them. Instead, I’ll just say that the number one way to help someone who has just found out they were diagnosed with HIV is to support them — however they want. Ask them. If they don’t know, give them the space to let them figure it out, just as you would any other challenge they go through.
Something you can do more pragmatically is help them get into treatment (if they want your help). Research has found that starting antiretroviral therapy (HIV medications) immediately after you’re diagnosed with HIV is extremely helpful for long-term health. You can also help them set up a reminder system so they remember to take their medication, because it’s important that they take their antiretrovirals as directed — otherwise their viral load count can rise, they can become resistant to the medications they’re on, and their health can decline.
How Can My HIV+ Partner Help?
In addition to keeping themselves healthy, your HIV positive partner’s treatment plan can also help you stay HIV negative. This is called treatment as prevention, and it works because the less of the virus someone has in their system, the harder it is for them to transmit it to someone else. In fact, an extremely exciting recent study found no instances of transmission between partners when the HIV positive partner’s viral load count (the number of copies of virus in their blood) was less than 200 copies per ml of blood (called an “undetectable” amount).
So if your partner takes their medication and gets their viral load count down, they are also helping your health! Everybody wins.
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