HIV: "Why do not I worry about my boyfriend having the virus?" BBC News



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22.11.2018

Max is HIV positive, Alex is not. They started dating together two years ago, right after Max knew he was living with HIV.

They both participated in an important study on the transmissibility of the virus that showed that a person with HIV who followed an effective treatment could not transmit the virus through sex.

The couple shared their story with BBC Radio 5 in hopes that this will inspire more people to take the test and eliminate some stigmata that still exist.

Max's story

"I was 24 when I discovered I was HIV positive. FWhat a shock, a punch in the stomach. When they told me, I started to cry. I did not know what to do. Should I go back to work or take a break in my life? Do I have to tell anyone? How do I find a boyfriend now?

The nurse at the clinic where they gave me the results hugged me and said, "Do not worry, everything will be fine."

As I did the test regularly, I discovered this at a very early stage, and that was good news, because the sooner the treatment starts, the better.

Medication for HIV works reduce the amount of virus in undetectable blood levels. This means that the virus can not be transmitted during intercourse, even without a condom.

Taking the medication I need is quite easy:only I need one pill a day at dinner time. Patients with type 1 diabetes require four or five injections per day.

Being HIV positive cost me more mentally than physically: the anxiety I feel when I have to tell other people about my illness.

My diagnosis was made to my closest friends and family. Most of them responded wonderfully, but not all of them supported me.

A friend, sort of a mentor to me, told me, "Frankly, I would not seek or have sex with someone with HIV. I would always be wondering if they take their pills or not. "

I felt that I was labeling people with HIV as "reckless" and myself as "responsible" for avoiding contact with people like me.

This view emerged in the 1980s, when HIV was considered a personal fault or a death sentence. People still associate HIV with the gravestone images on television or with Princess Diana hugging people with AIDS in the hospital.

Alex (left), Max (right)
The couple has been in a relationship for two years.

Many have refused to touch people with HIV and more to have intimate contact. But today, those of us who are living with HIV can expect to live as long as anyone else.

My mentor's reaction really affected me. I started having panic attacks. I had never experienced it before but could not breathe. I could not even leave.

I met Alex shortly after learning that he was living with HIV. We were both academics and we were interested in issues of gender and sexuality, so a bond was born. He already knew I was HIV positive so it was not something I had to mention.

I'm not sure at what point we stopped using condoms while maintaining relationships I did not see him distressed, but I feared that he would feel pressured not to use condoms to make me feel better.

Last year, we participated in the study Partner, which overwhelmingly demonstrated that people with HIV can have sexual intercourse without condom and not transmit the virus if they do the proper treatment.

I think if more people knew this, there would be far less fear or stigma about HIV and no one would have any qualms about taking the test. "


How treatment works for HIV

• HIV is treated with antiretroviral drugs, which prevent virus replication.

• Next, the amount of virus in your blood is measured to see how well the treatment is working.

• It may take up to six months for this viral load to become undetectable.

• People with HIV who receive effective HIV treatment and whose viral load has not been detected for six months or more can not transmit the virus through sex.

• The NHS, the UK public health service, says that condoms are the most effective way to protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).


The story of Alex

Alex
Alex is confident that Max will take his medicine "because his health depends on it."

"The first impression I had of Max was that he was very sure of himself.

I met him at a UK Green Party political conference. I was with a group of young homosexuals – we were probably pretty intimidating as a collective – and yet he came and said, "Hi."

I found out that I was HIV positive days after meeting him, when he posted on his Facebook status next to a picture with his medications.

One of the reasons I was attracted to him was that he was so open to discussing that he had HIV. I have always admired your confidence and your refusal to submit to social pressure.

I also liked the fact that even when he was dealing with the impact of his diagnosis, he devoted some of his time and emotional energy to trying to help others.

We met a few months after the conference and that's when it all began.

Max and Alex.
Max and Alex have been in a relationship for two years.

Not I was scared that out therepositive, not at all. On the contrary, I felt sad because I knew that after the diagnosis I had suffered some rejection from other people.

When having sex without a condom, I did not bother to get HIV because I knew my boyfriend was taking his medication.

I totally trust him. Some people say that people with the virus may not take their medications, but that's just a bias. If you live with HIV, Your health depends on taking this pill. daily. It's not something you forget.

I did not tell my whole family that Max is HIV-positive, I do not think it's that important.

I told my parents before I took him home for dinner, but only because he took the pill with dinner and did not want me to get up from the table to do it.

It's a shame that it was not better than HIV may not be transmitted. Many people suffer from the stigma surrounding the disease for no apparent reason.

People's opinions about HIV are anchored in the past. We need to drive change. "


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