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Sero discordant couple


my wife has just been diagnosed with HIV
I'm quite scared and still don't want to leave the relationship
How can I protect myself
She's on ARV right now and we are planning to have a baby


Hello and thank you for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline. We are happy to help answer your question.

It seems that you are scared and worried as your wife's diagnosis must have been a difficult situation to understand. I hope to help you understand how serodiscordant couples can live happily and safely like any other couple, with advanced medicine and prevention methods available.

I am happy to hear that your wife is already on treatment. With the use of ART, being HIV positive is not a death sentence anymore, but only a health condition in which you can live long with, as long as you are on treatment properly. When your wife adheres properly to ART, eventually her viral load will reach the undetectable level. Being undetectable means that although your body fluids may sometimes contain HIV, your viral load is very low that the chance of HIV being passed on to another person becomes very low. Here is also a video that explains what being undetectable means.

There is also a medication called PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), that can be taken by the HIV-negative partner, so you, to lower the chance of you acquiring HIV from your wife. It is a pill called Truvada that is taken once everyday. Research shows that with the combination of consistent and proper use of ART by the HIV+ partner and consistent and proper use of PrEP by the HIV- partner, the risk of HIV transmission is reduced significantly by over 90%. Here is an news article that summarizes this research if you would like to read more.
As it is a fairly new drug, there are also different forms such as vaginal/rectal gel or injections that are becoming available as well.
AIDS Vancouver can also help you connect with healthcare professionals, organizations that can provide your PrEP as well, so if you would like to consider this option please call us at 1-844-4636-448 or Email us at helpline@aidsvancouver.org. We will be happy to help you connect with the resources you need.

The above PrEP is a HIV transmission prevention method but is not something that will replace other prevention strategies such as condom use. Condom use is a method that is effective for the prevention of HIV and STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections).

You also mentioned that you are planning to have a baby. I am happy to let you know that women living with HIV can have healthy HIV-negative babies. This something that your wife must discuss in partner with a healthcare professional as it is about her health condition and her body, but I would like to let you know that you can have children who are HIV-negative. Here is also a link where you can read more about HIV & Pregnancy as well.

Above are all prevention methods that are available, but it is important to partner with a healthcare professional for consistent and proper use of what you decide to use. There are also local HIV support organizations that are available to provide support to you as well. If you are living in British Columbia, here at AIDS Vancouver, we have a specific program called the Health Promotion Case Management that will work closely with you and your wife for your needs for support. If you do not live here at British Columbia or Canada, we are very happy to help find and connect you with the resources available in your local area - please feel free to call us directly at 1-844-4636-448 or Email us confidentially at helpline@aidsvancouver.org.

I hope this information helped answer your question and help you understand how you can be in a serodiscordant relationship happily and safely. Please contact us again if you have anymore questions.

All the best, Risa

Thank you for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline.
AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online
Monday-Friday 9am-5pm (PST)
1 844 INFO-HIV (Toll free Canada & U.S.)