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New diagnos for serodiscordant couple. How do we deal with this?

Nov 28, 2010

My partner just got diagnosed as positive and my first test is negative. I've accepted the positive diagnoses and it hadn't changed the way I feel about my partner emotionally or sexually. However I feel he is completely shutting down from me and says he's scared of infecting me. I try to reassure with a lot of info but he's finding that overwhelming. We're both seeing the same counsellor but seperately as they say my partner is the highest priority and any 'couple' stuff has to wait. My partner feels the same about that too. I feel like i'm being shut out and excluded. I can feel myself shutting off emotionally now too and i've just started taking Cymbalta for depression and anxiety. I'm there 100% for my partner but I'm feeling like there is no-one there who can support my needs or even understand them. I also have to be tested again in a couple of weeks due to window periods of unprotected sex prior to my parnters diagnosis. He refuses to accept that the result may be positive too and I feel like I don't know which way to turn, what to do or how to cope with this and still be a supportive partner. Could you please, please, please give me some advice as it's all getting way too much to handle?

Response from Dr. Frascino


Sorry to hear about your partner's recent HIV diagnosis. A period of adjustment to the new reality of being virally enhanced is appropriate and to be expected. Maybe you're trying too hard to help. I'd suggest backing off a bit (not "shutting down"). Let your partner know you're there for him and then give him some space. Encourage him to become better informed about all aspects of HIV. He should begin by reviewing the information in the "Just Diagnosed" chapter on this site, which can be found on The Body's homepage under "The Basics". He should continue with his counseling and also work closely with his HIV physician specialist.

Because your boyfriend is presently overwhelmed with his recent diagnosis, you may need to look elsewhere for the support you need during the window period. Hopefully your therapist and a few close friends will help. You'll need HIV-antibody testing at both the three- and six-month marks from the date of last exposure (unprotected sex). Assuming you remain negative and you both agree to pursue this relationship, you should both read the information in the chapter in the archives of this forum devoted to magnetic couples and consider implementing some of the harm-reduction techniques discussed.

Good luck to you both!

Dr. Bob

HIV from bath water (BATH WATER, 2010)

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