Ask the Expert: How to Lighten the Awkward Conversation with Your Partner About Your HIV Status

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HIV, over the years, has changed a lot. Patients are living a better life, a more fulfilling life, a more productive life, raising children, having meaningful relationships. So it's been destigmatized. So it's important that, first of all, we have that baseline. If we understand HIV in that way that people can live meaningful lives, that there are medications that we can take to actually make the virus undetectable in our bloodstream, then you have that confidence to approach your new partner or your partner to say, this is what I've been told and this is what I know about it.

The best way to prepare my patient, to have a conversation with your partner is to prepare them first. They need to understand what HIV is so I prepare my patient. I explain to them what this means.

They hear numbers, HIV viral load, CD4 count, my immune system. You explain what all this means. And you must always tell them that they can live a good life if we get them on a good regimen and they are compliant.

But there are some things I tell patients the first thing is to be open. You love this person. You don't want them to contract the same infection is why you want to tell them so that they are protected. So be open that is 1.

Be prepared for judgment. This is something new. Your partner may be a bit judgmental. They may be a bit irrational. Don't feel too disappointed if they say things that are a bit harsh.

And the third one is have this discussion in a safe space. If you don't feel safe, please don't have this in the bedroom all alone.