I had a chat today with a fellow HIV+ friend of mine – in the last few months we’ve both gone through similar experiences which got me thinking. Yes, that does happen sometimes.
We’d both, for the first time since diagnosis, entered into the worlds of ‘magnetic’ or serodiscordant dating; where in a couple one is HIV positive, the other is not. Now – while this is nothing revolutionary in itself; I feel its worthy of discussion.
I had never had to have the ‘I am positive; you know what that means’ convo as I had chosen to only date other positive people up until recently. When I did have to have ‘that’ convo for the first time and the conversation passed by totally uneventfully I was a little taken aback; although I don’t know what I expected to be fair. I am very openly positive and my social media channels are regularly full of me banging the HIV and sexual health advocacy drum so to speak.
Did he understand? Maybe I’d got it all wrong and he just wanted friendship? Did I need to clarify? A million questions – but then who doesn’t have a million questions when they’re getting to know someone and possibly going to get naked with them?!
Hands up I’m a fretter and a people pleaser – I obsess over everything – what I did/didn’t say, what I should or shouldn’t have said – and all that coupled with then adding HIV into the dating arena makes for some interesting navigation for which there is no sat nav.
Now my friend and I have both met gents who are ‘ok’ with the extra inhabitant we both have in our blood. Turns out both knew our status before entering into ‘dates’ and see ‘us’ rather than ‘it’. And now this is all super, wonderful, great, marvellous etc etc etc….
Studies have shown – now I appreciate this is a very simplified sentence – that Treatment As Prevention (TASP) works. And works incredibly well. The risk of transmission, when medication is taken as advised, is minimal. There are several studies now which show zero transmissions between serodiscordant couples when TASP is executed correctly. Read more about one of those here.
So, what is the problem Lizzie?
The problem lies more with ‘us’ – my friend and I, the positive people. We’re both educated, we’ve both read the clinical trials, the research papers and studies, are aware of the statistics and facts. We both have absolute confidence in our adherence and that we’ve both maintained undetectable viral loads consistently since starting treatment.
Yet we both still deal with the psychological battle of ‘what if’
We both dared to admit to each other that we still, on occasion, wonder ‘what if’ even though we both understand that ‘what if’ is as likely as winning the lottery*. Would it be irresponsible of us to be blase? Are we creating our own internal stigma? Now those questions I need to consider further.. And in the meantime, condoms rock!
*And I’ve not bought a lottery ticket in a long long time!