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RE: Testing for Negative Husband
Jun 10, 1999

Dear Dr. Remien:

I read with interest the posting regarding the HIV- husband who tests every six months. I also think your response was really pertinent.

My partner is HIV+ and I am HIV-. At first, I tested every six months, but found it really, really stressful. I asked myself the same questions you asked in your response, and decided that there is no point in me testing unless there is a specific concern (such as signs of sero-conversion, or condom breakage, etc.).

Even so, I have had to question the point of testing even if there is a specific concern. My partner is not on drug therapy, and has chosen to live with HIV by living in a stress-free, healthy way. He tests his CD4s every six months and could possibly change his perspective on treatment if there is a consistent, drastic change in his counts. I agree with what he is doing, and would mostly likely do the same if I ever tested positive. Since I share the same healthy lifestyle as my partner, this means that nothing would really change if I tested positive.

So, for now, I have opted to not test for HIV more than once every two years. I hope the couple who have questions about HIV testing are practising safer sex. It's difficult to resign oneself to this in a longterm relationship but, speaking from my own experience, it does become easier in the sense that everything we do to prevent me getting HIV has begun to feel quite natural. I think another factor that helps us to take the focus off what we do (e.g., condoms, etc.) is that we work hard to make all other aspects of our relationship as good as possible. As long as everything else is going well, things in the bedroom tend to go well.

Yours,

S.

Response from Dr. Remien

Thank you for your comments. I hope they will be helpful to other couples as well.

I also hear from many other couples that maintaining "safer sex" can come to feel quite natural. And you are absolutely right that working on other aspects of the relationship is important. There are many factors that make up the identity of a couple and having opposite HIV status is just one of those characteristics. I also think it is important to think of "safer sex" as one of the ways that you take care of each other and that it can be useful to note other ways that you take care of each other, as well.

Again, thanks for your comments.


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