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what is it like to live with an HIV+ partner?
      #1062 - 03/31/00 04:16 AM

what is it like to live with an HIV+ partner? Like many of you, I
have a story that is both sad and beautiful. Last year while
vacationing in Africa I met the woman of my dreams. It was like
magic, we are from two very different cultures but that did not
matter, we both felt it and could not deny it. She is from a very
small village, far removed from "civilization" as American's know
it. She had never left her small part of the world, but I bought
her a ticket and she came to the USA and visited. While here, she
tested positive for HIV. This was of course devestating news. Her
viral load was over 50,000 and her CD4 was 176. We were
devestated. And she was learning this in a foreign language in an
alien culture. I was the only person she knew here. I had to tell
her, and explain it to her. We got her on medication and she had
an immediate positive response. Within a month I became very ill,
all the symptoms matched HIV. As it turned out, I had contracted
the Epstein-Barr virus and became quite ill. For the next six
months, life was unbearable as I kept taking the test, while
still showing the symptoms. The good news is that I am definitely
HIV negative. I found her health care in Africa. Everyone said
that this would be impossible, and it is indeed the case in her
country. I simply would not accept this, I love her very, very
much. I found a doctore who is great and an expert in South
Africa and once every three to four months she makes the journey.
She now has undected viral load and a CD4 of almost 400. It is
working. Every month I send her the three med's from here as they
are simply not available where she lives. God is looking after
her. Despite all of the heartache, it has been a beautiful
experience. My heart is constantly breaking, as her entire
village is dying right before her eyes. It is a small village,
eight people died last week, she can not even attend all of the
funerals because they are on the same day. Her entire country is
dying, and the world does not want to know about it. So...I am
trying to decide what to do. I love her with all of my heart. If
she did not have HIV, I know that she and her two children would
be living here with me now. But I am so scared of that disease. I
have confronted it. She is doing well, and I did not get it.
While it is illegal for her to move here, I am very good at
making things happen and I can find a way. That is not the
problem. The question is, can I live with a person with HIV? I
don't know what that means, I don't know what that is like. I
have learned so much about this disease, I have to , I went
through every step that a person goes thorugh when they find out
that they are positive with her, I went through the fear of
having it, and the waiting for test results. And I am scared to
death of it. So, while I know a lot about it, I am not living in
this community. MY partner is on the other side of the planet. I
don't know what it is like to live with someone who is positive.
I don't know if it means that she will just be taking 14 pills a
day and basically live a normal life or what? I am a middle
class, heterosexual white guy that lives in a rural area. I don't
know anyone else who is positive. The local Aids project has not
been any help to me. Is there anyone out there who is living with
a partner that is positive? What is that like? What does that
mean in your life? Have you learned to live with the fear? Oddly
enough, she is OK with it, she has accepted it and is just
thankful that she has access to the med's. It is me that is so
worried. If she lived here, I would marry her, but there are so
many factors, she has two young girls (7 and 10) who have never
been a minority, if she becomes ill, there will be no family
other than myself and the two kids. In her society it family is
everything. But, if I had some idea what it means to live every
day with a positive partner it would help me with my decision. If
anyone out there can give me some idea what its like, I would be
so thankful. It does not matter if you are male, female,
heterosexual, homosexual, just that you are in love and in a
relationship with a positive person. Thanks for your thoughts.

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Re: what is it like to live with an HIV+ partner? new
      #1063 - 03/31/00 04:17 AM

Hi Rich,

Just read your posting. You really must love this girl. My wife
is HIV+. HIV+ is not the end of the world and you can live a
normal life if you have access to the meds. As in your loved
one's village obviously there are no meds and soon the whole
village will dissapear.

If you would like to start a discussion please email me and I
will tell you what it is like to live with HIV.


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Hopefully some helpful words new
      #1066 - 03/31/00 04:18 AM

Dear Rich:

Sorry for the late response, but I only just began reading the
Community Bulletin Board. I am an HIV- woman, and my partner
discovered that he was HIV+ approximately eight months into our
relationship. We have been together almost two years.

You are a very kind and giving person: you love and help this
woman even though you are uncertain about having a relationship
with her. You are a good friend. You listed many questions and
concerns, and I am tempted to place them in two basic categories:
relationship-related and HIV/AIDS related.

Having been involved in an interracial marriage for many years,
as well as my current relationship with an HIV+ partner (who is
also from another culture/country/race), I can really relate to
you in some ways. However, I tend not to place too much
importance on the differences between people of different
cultures, even though I admit that these differences can affect a
relationship. More important to me are the differences and
similarities between individuals. In my personal relationship
experiences, similarities in religion, culture and family
background have not been as important as what we, as two
individuals within a loving relationship, have learned from our
life experiences and brought into our relationship. For example,
my partner and I have two very different religions, but our
spirituality and philosophy of life manifests in similar ways;
and we come from very different cultural/racial backgrounds, but
many of our life experiences are the same. You did mention that
your friend places a lot of importance on family and, if family
is not important to you, I guess this might present problems and
misunderstandings at times. However, every relationship has
problems, but if both parties are willing to work on these issues
and make compromises, then I think such differences of opinion
can be lived with. I emphasize the word, "both". Again, I think
it has more to do with individuals than with race.

Regarding being HIV- and living with an HIV+ partner, it has been
very, very difficult at times. The difficulty seems to fade with
time as we both learn to communicate and both grow accustomed to
the changes HIV has made in our lives and in our long term goals.
From my experiences of being the negative partner, I would have
to say the most difficult things to-date would be 1) feelings of
resentment, 2) feelings that the man I love will not be around
for me in the future, 3) feeling very, very scared while knowing
that I am not comfortable showing the full extent of my fear
because I have to be strong for my partner. You said that your
friend has just accepted her situation and is simply happy to
have access to the medications, and you imply that you seem to be
far more disturbed about it than she appears to be. I have been
chronically ill before, and I found that it was much easier to be
the ill person than to be the one who loves an ill person. My
partner also thinks about HIV far less than I do. You asked
(regarding how life would be living with an HIV+ person), “I
don't know if it means that she will just be taking 14 pills a
day and basically live a normal life or what?” Everyone is
different: I have a friend who lives in this way, but my partner
and I do not. HIV/AIDS constantly reminds us that life is full of
many surprises - some good, some bad - and that many things are
beyond our control. What’s important to us is that we are willing
to face it, to be honest about it and to support each other
through it. And, this is not always easy.

I don’t think I’m being of much help, but since you asked for any
information from people in similar circumstances to yours, I am
happy to provide. I guess my major concern is that you are trying
to make a decision about whether or not to have a relationship
with this woman based on what you hear from others in similar
situations. Even if there are some similarities between your
situation and mine, whether or not to have a relationship with
someone is a personal choice based on many factors such as mutual
commitment, love, the amount of sacrifice and compromise both
partners are willing to make, respect, self esteem, and many,
many other things. Perhaps if I tell you that I stay with my
partner because he takes care of himself emotionally and
physically, we have mutual respect and love, and he continues to
bring a lot of joy and positive energy into my life.



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Re: what is it like to live with an HIV+ partner? new
      #132237 - 12/26/04 06:55 AM

My husband is late stage HIV and I am negative. We have been together for five years and were friends for a year before that. It has been the best years of my life and he has had no symptoms until recently. He has been positive since , at least, 1996, and very healthy. So, until just this past few months he has had nothing but good health. Life is wonderful, attitude is everything with this illness, and just like people get cancer, or other illnesses, I see no difference in AIDS or HIV than any other illness. I guess It has not affected our lives at all. He had a bout of thrush and wasting, but keep in mind that he has not been on retrovirals. At any rate, we had a wonderful day today and I plan to keep him around for as long as I can. We are a mixed couple as well, and are looking forward to our first grandbaby, my daughter and we are raising his [my] 8 year old.

In some ways I am grateful that HIV is a part of our lives, as strange as that may sound. I appreciate life more. And maybe in some ways this has made me a better person.

At any rate we have high hopes the meds work as well as we hope they will. If I had to do this all over again, I would. I have no regrets, and He only takes meds 3 times a day. But I take blood pressure meds, and hormones, so I probably take more pills a day than he does. Maybe at some point things will get horrible, but that hasn't happened so far. If that happens then we will deal with it. But so far, he is a plus in my life and so is the child and thanks to AIDS we take not a day or each other for granted.

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