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Mixed-HIV-Status CouplesMixed-HIV-Status Couples
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please help-can we be a normal couple
Jun 10, 2002

In Feb., my fiance tested pos. I have since tested neg. on two anitbody test, and neg. on a viral load test. When we first found out, we broke up. But we have since started talking again. We love each other very much, but a future together doesn't seem likely, considering our mixed hiv status. I have small children at home, and my mother thinks I'm crazy for even considering a reconciliation. People tell us both to just forget each other, but we have been together for several years. Please help. We live in Mississippi and hiv is just not a subject most people are comfortable talking about. Thank you so much for any advice or info. you can give us. Would I be risking my children's lives by marrying this man? Thanks again!

Response from Dr. Remien

It is true that being in a mixed status relationship has its challenges. Also, these challenges can be exacerbated when living in a community where HIV is not talked about very much, people are not "open" about being HIV positive, and there is a lack of community-level support. However, to automatically assume that a mixed status couple cannot live a happy and healthy life together is extremely unfair. Many relationships are challenged by health and chronic illness, but with support and mutual caring and concern, they are generally able to rise and meet the challenges. It should not be different with HIV disease.

The foundation for a good relationship includes love, respect, and honesty. It needs to be up to you and your fiancé as to whether or not you want to be in this relationship. Open and honest communication about your fears and concerns needs to be part of the dialogue. To be blunt in regard to your question about "risking your childrens' lives," I need to say that unless you are concerned that your fiancé will be having sex with, or sharing needles with, your children, then you are not risking their lives. As to how they would deal with the knowledge of HIV in the family depends on their age, how and when it is communicated to them, and the support they receive in processing the information and integrating it into their lives. How they cope would be influenced to a large degree by what you model - that is, how you and your fiancé cope with the presence of HIV, if you choose to be together.

I suggest you read some of the questions and answers on this Forum to see how other mixed status couples think about and deal with some of the issues. Speaking with friends and family can help, unless they are all entirely biased in a direction that does not allow them to consider all of your feelings about this. It may be very helpful for you to seek professional guidance and counseling as you try to sort through the issues.

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