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Afraid to commmit to poz lover
Sep 3, 2004

My partner found out he was positive a month into our relationship. We have now been together 8 months and I am still negative. I have no concerns about myself anymore really. But Im afraid that he wont take care of himself and I'll lose him. I really do love him and could see staying with him. But I'm afraid to commit to someone I may lose. What is the current estimate of thriving for a positive person who takes care of themselves? Are there new medications on the horizon which will affect that number in the next ten years?

Response from Dr. Remien

You are asking good questions that I do not think can be answered with any real precision. Many doctors are comfortable these days telling their patients who have recently been infected that chances are quite good that, with good care, they can have a reasonable expectation of a long and relatively healthy life. There still is no cure for HIV, but there are highly effective therapies that can keep the virus under control for many years. However, as you are probably aware, the medications that are now available are highly toxic and have a lot of unpleasant side effects. Also, they are not always effective for everyone. Thus, there are legitimate questions about how long people can live and continue to take these medications, without getting sick. Many remain optimistic that new therapies will continue to be developed and that they will be less toxic and more effective. And then there are some, but I believe fewer, people who believe we will see an actual "cure" for this disease in our lifetime.

So for now, it seems that most people who have access to good health care and the necessary therapies, can realistically hope for a "normal" or "close to normal" life-span. However, there are of course no guarantees and there is a wide range of variability in regards to disease progression across individuals. I do believe it is important for your partner to have regular check-ups with his physician and also to do what he can to take care of himself (e.g., good nutrition, exercise, etc.). Also, his physician can speak more specifically about what his current health status is and can talk about his expectations for health vs illness.

In regard to your fears about commitment, those are normal feelings. At the same time, they need to be kept in perspective. I suggest that you talk openly about your fears and concerns and then also listen to his perspective. If you continue in this relationship I think you should consider asking your partner if you can accompany him to one of his doctor's visits. That way you can ask some questions yourself and hopefully be reassured by the doctor. Most doctors are open to this, but your partner has to feel comfortable with it. If you and/or he are not comfortable with this, then I suggest that you speak directly with your own physician. It is important for you to be informed and it is also important that you take care of yourself and that you both work together to keep you uninfected and to keep both of you as healthy as possible.


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