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HIV+ partner

Aug 20, 2011

Hi Dr. Bob,

My partner of 4 years and I have recently found out he is HIV+. I tested negative. He presumably got it from a previous partner 4 years ago. How likely is it that he didn't transmit the virus to me after 4 years of unprotected sex? How can I help him get the right treatment? I've done all kinds of research but my partner doesn't want to hear about it. He went to an HIV clinic but dones't trust the MD there. His blood was drawn for viral and CD4 count but they are telling him to wait 1 MONTH for the results! Is this wait normal or acceptable? When I told him to call his doctor at the HIV clinic and challenge this timeframe, he said I should leave him alone. I can't even bring up the topic of HIV because he flares up. I asked to go with him to his next visit to the doctor so I could ask questions about treatment and see if we can trust her but he said I shouldn't be involved in that bc that is a very personal matter to him. The way I see it, we are both dealing with HIV, but he won't let me help him. Do you think he will eventually open up to suggestions and get me more involved in his treatment? Is this a reasonable expectation that I should be involved or no?


Response from Dr. Frascino


It is possible that your recently diagnosed positively charged partner has not transmitted the virus to you. You are testing negative so far, and that's very encouraging news. You'll need repeat HIV testing at the three- and six-month marks following your last potential exposure (unprotected sex).

Regarding your partner's current mental state, as he has only recently been diagnosed, a period of adjustment to his new reality as a virally enhanced individual is to be expected. I realize you want to help, but I'd suggest backing off for the moment and letting him process things his own way. Just let him know you're there for him to help in any way. If he doesn't trust the physician he saw, he should find a new HIV specialist physician with whom he can work closely and cooperatively. He could check with local AIDS service organizations or his primary care physician for a referral. Alternatively he could check the American Academy of HIV Medicine Web site. They have a find-a-provider function to locate certified HIV physician specialists.

Regarding lab test results, CD4 counts and plasma viral load results are usually available within one to two weeks.

If your partner continues to withdraw and shut you out, you could consider couples counseling to open communication and trust channels going forward. You can also suggest your partner check out this Web site, as there is a wealth of information here that could be helpful for him.

Good luck to you both.

Dr. Bob

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