Luca and Ivan have been together for five months. Luca is HIV-positive and Ivan is HIV-negative, and Ivan came along to the photo shoot to support his boyfriend.

  

After some gentle persuasion, Ivan got in front of the camera with Luca and they both spoke about how HIV has impacted their relationship.

FS: How long had you been dating before the subject of HIV came up?

Luca: I brought it up on the first date.

Ivan: We had a couple of drinks and settled into the evening. I’m glad he told me.

How did it come up?

Luca: I’ve always had a full disclosure policy. So every time I meet someone, even for a one-off, I always disclose my status if there is a chance of any ‘pants down action’.

Ivan: Initially we were only meeting up for some casual drinks on our first date but obviously the evening went well and we had so much to talk about that he asked if I want to get some food too. It was over dinner when he took his pill and I asked what it was. I remember being silly asking if he was taking some fat burning capsules given how fit and athletic he is. I wasn’t expecting his disclosure but after he got me curious about the whole societial stigma around it and also the fact he made it rather educational and told me what living with HIV is really all about.

What was the reaction like?

Luca: He was positively curious and wanted to understand more. That actually brought some more interesting conversation. And a lot of internet research and forwarding of articles.

Ivan: I was cool about it really. I wasn’t put off, although there are others making it really clear on the dating apps but with Luca he prefers to tell you in person. Luca is very optimistic and confident with his HIV, which I find attractive. He got me curious to find out the associated risks of going out with someone who’s HIV-positive. He’s constantly finding me articles to read about HIV.

Does HIV affect your relationship?

Luca: It doesn’t affect it at all, except for the random “have you taken your pill” reminder.

Ivan: We do the same thing every couple does. It’s like any other previous relationship I was in before but if there’s anyway that I can make Luca feel better and happier I will, just that I don’t know how at the moment except for that “have you popped that pill yet?”

Do your different statuses impact your sex life?

Luca: It did open up some question initially about how ‘Undetectable = Untrasmittable’ is actaully true, but once we cleared that up, there has not been any further impact.

Ivan: Not at all, not now anymore at least. I was a bit skeptical about ‘Undetectable = Untransmittible’ thing at the beginning. I was panicked and even went on PEP after our first unprotected sex, but once that’s cleared there are no issues. Although I still always go for my routine checks at the clinic.

What advice would you give other serodifferent couples?

Luca: You are two people that care and love each other.Your different statuses shouldn’t be of any concern, especially if one is HIV-undetectable.

Ivan: We already have enough stress in our lives, so let’s not make this another one. Life’s too short to worry unnecessarily. Don’t let HIV stigma consume us.


What does serodifferent mean?

  • Serodifferent is also known as serodiscordant.
  • When a couple is serodifferent, this means one person is living with HIV and the other person is HIV-negative.
  • If the person living with HIV is on effective treatment,  his viral load will drop and he will be HIV-undetectable.
  • This means he cannot pass on HIV.
  • If the person living with HIV doesn’t have an undetectable viral load, it is important that an HIV prevention method is used.
  • This could be in the form of condoms, or taking the HIV prevention drug, PrEP.
  • It is important that the HIV-negative partner still goes for regular HIV tests.

Find out more about what it means to be HIV-undetectable at www.gmfa.org.uk/theundetectables.

For more information about life living with HIV, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/livingwithhiv.

For more information about PrEP and where to get it, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/prep.


Read all the articles from FS 163...