Photo credits: Sandie B.

When Pete was diagnosed with HIV, back in 2007, I assumed the worst. We had been friends for many years after having a romantic relationship back in the late 90’s and I was devastated to hear that someone I cared about very much was sentenced to a life of illness and probably a premature and painful end to his life. The feeling was one of great despair and helplessness.

After telling me about how he was diagnosed-after having a dream that he tested positive-he told me about how the counselor at the clinic he went to gave him some encouragement. “It’s a weak strain,” she had told him, “you could live for another 30 years”. But he and I both thought we knew that she was being very generous.

A couple of years passed and I hadn’t heard much from Pete at all. He was living a different life; scared of what the future held for him. I lent him some money now and again. He came to stay the night at my house in the suburbs to use the computer, have a good meal. Eventually we lost touch completely and he became more of a fleeting thought…a distant existence which I hoped was well.

Amazingly all of that came to an abrupt end in 2014 when a quick Facebook search for old friends turned up a cheerful Facebook page belonging to Pete! I sent him a quick note and friend request. His pictures were of a happy and thriving person; not at all like the depressed and defeated one I had lost touch with all those years ago. He invited me to come and visit his new home.

After catching up I realized that I was still in love with him; his happiness was infectious and invigorating. We quickly rekindled our romance and naturally the subject of his HIV status came up. He asked me, “Do you know what undetectable means?” I didn’t, but I soon learned that having an HIV positive status doesn’t mean that your life, or your love life, is over. He has been on medication which not only prevents the HIV from progressing to AIDS, but also which lowers the amount of the virus in the blood to the point that it is no longer transmissible. This approach to prevention is known as treatment as prevention, or TasP. Essentially, with the medications of today, we can have a normal love life and even have a child if we decide to.

Attaining a new lease on life doesn’t happen very often, but for us it truly has. Our life is idyllic.  The only difference between our life and anyone else’s is that Pete has to take medication twice a day and visit the doctor a couple times a year. I get tested once a year for HIV and am negative. I don’t take any medication or need to take any special precautions to be with him. We are very lucky and in love.

According to contemporary medical terminology, we are considered a serodiscordant  couple, which means that one of us is positive for HIV and one of us is negative. To find out more about how medication can prevent HIV visit the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) website www.hiveonline.org which is a premier and groundbreaking source of information related to the prevention of HIV transmission.

Sandie B. is a 38 year old woman who lives in the SF Bay Area with her HIV positive partner.

 

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Information and Resources from HIVE

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See below for resources on Treatment as Prevention:

Prevention Access Campaign