Oct 15, 2013
I'm HIV-, and in a relationship with an HIV+ man. He's always been open about it and told me right from when we started dating that he's positive.
We both studied a lot about this matter of course, and we both know where we stand, so that's not an issue. The issue is that my partner basically locks down when we're getting more physical. We talked about it and he's afraid he'll infect me. I know the risks, and we didn't take any risks at all, but it still scares him.
I know it's because he loves me and doesn't want to hurt me, but it's not exactly easy for us.
Can you explain how to go further? How to break the fear?
Response from Dr. Fawcett
Thanks for writing. Serodiscordant couples often experience a dynamic which you have noted: a great fear on the part of the positive partner about infecting the other person. There are very few resources for such couples. Here in Ft. Lauderdale we have just started a program for couples that discusses the risks, expression of feelings, and couples' communication skills.
I would suggest finding a couple's therapist who is familiar with HIV. He/she can help you understand the risks (for example, if he is undetectable such risk significantly drops), as well as your tolerance to certain behaviors. Couples often want black and white answers about what is safe and what is not. Reality is, unfortunately, more complex. A professional could also help you both work on expression of feelings in order to remove any barriers to deeper intimacy.
Here is a page from TheBody that has good resource information about serodiscordant couples.
I wish you both well,
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