Navigating Serodiscordant Relationships
By Adebola Aduwo
In this piece, Adebola gives us an insight into relationships where one partner is HIV- and the other HIV+. Like Femi and Sheila showed us; when the right measures are taken, both partners can live a long, happy and healthy life together.
Who’s been your favourite #couplegoals from MTV Shuga Naija so far?
One of our favs were Femi and Sheila. Watching their love grow and seeing them overcome their family challenges and a long-distance relationship to becoming hubby and wife was so cute! Their relationship taught us a lot of lessons, one of which was how to have a healthy magnetic or serodiscordant (if you’re more old school) partnership! If you’re not sure what a magnetic relationship is, it’s one that involves two people with different HIV statuses, that is, one partner is HIV positive and the other, HIV negative.
HIV has been a major barrier for people who are looking to get into romantic relationships. This ‘stumbling block’ can mostly be attributed to fear and a lack of proper knowledge on how to navigate a relationship. Many people still worry that a positive HIV status will hinder them from living a normal life; which is not true. Let’s use Femi and Sheila as an example and see how you can have a healthy and successful relationship:
Disclosing your status
It is extremely important to disclose your HIV status to whoever you are looking to get into a relationship with. You are at liberty to decide what to tell them when you feel comfortable enough to but you have to be completely honest. Try not to take any unpleasant reactions personally.
HIV is not a death sentence
When dating someone who is HIV+, you have the option of taking PrEP daily as an addition to condoms to ensure your safety. Plus, if your partner takes their ARVs daily and both of you keep a healthy diet, then you should both live a long life.
What are the risks?
The risk of transmitting the virus in a serodiscordant relationship can be significantly reduced if proper measures are taken. Sheila and Femi had such a beautiful relationship, they even made us jealous! Femi’s HIV status did not discourage them. If it did anything, it made their bond stronger. Femi was super religious with his anti-retroviral treatment (ARVs) and they never had sex without using protection.
When ARVs are used correctly and consistently, your viral load can become so low that it is almost impossible to transmit the virus to your partner. This is not an excuse to have unprotected sex though. Also, as the HIV negative partner, it is very important to consider Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). With PrEP, the chance of being infected with HIV is extremely unlikely. This comes highly recommended for magnetic couples who intend to have a family.
Don’t let HIV get in the way of your feelings
A serodiscordant relationship, just like every other relationship, would come with its challenges. You don’t have to feel some type of way about it. All you and your partner need to do is learn to live positively!
If you need any help or support, do not hesitate to reach out to the following organizations:
08000022252 or on 22252