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HIV: "Why don't I worry about my girlfriend getting a virus?" – BBC News



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22.11.2018

Max is HIV positive, Alex is not. They started dating together two years ago, right after Max knew he was living with HIV.

Both of them participated in a large study of the possibility of transmission of the virus which showed that people with HIV who take effective treatment cannot transmit the virus through sex.

The couple have shared their stories with BBC Radio 5 in the hope that it will inspire more people to be tested and eliminate some of the stigma that still exists.

The story of Max

"I was 24 years old when I found I was HIV positive. FWhat a surprise, a blow in the stomach. When they told me, I started crying. I do not know what to do. Should I go back to work or make a break in my life? Do I have to tell someone? How will I find a girlfriend now?

The nurse at the clinic where they gave me the results hugged me and said: "Don't worry, everything will be fine."

When I do tests regularly, I find them at a very early stage, and that is good news because the faster the treatment starts, the better.

HIV drugs work with reduce the number of viruses in the blood at an undetectable level. This means that the virus cannot be transmitted during sex, even without condoms.

Taking the medicine that I need is something very easy:only I need one pill a day at dinner. Patients with type 1 diabetes need four or five injections per day.

Being HIV positive has made me more mental than physically: the anxiety I felt when I had to tell others about my illness.

My diagnosis is told to my closest friends and family. Most of them responded amazingly, but not all of them supported me.

A friend, a kind of mentor for me, told me: "Frankly, I will not seek or have sex with someone with HIV. I will always be left with the question whether they take their medicine or not. "

I feel that I label people with HIV as "unwise" and themselves "responsible" to avoid contact with people like me.

This vision emerged in the 1980s, when HIV was considered personal failure or capital punishment. People still associate HIV with tombstones on television or with Princess Diana who hugs AIDS sufferers in hospitals.

Alex (left), Max (right)
The couple has been in a relationship for two years now.

Many refuse to touch people with HIV and more to have intimate contact. But today, those living with HIV can expect to live as much as others.

The reaction of my mentor really affected me. I started having panic attacks. I have never experienced it before, but I can't breathe. I can't even go out.

I met Alex not long after learning that he was living with HIV. We are both academics and we are interested in gender and sexuality issues, so bonds are born. He already knew that I was HIV positive, so it wasn't something I should mention.

I'm not sure at what point we stopped using condoms while maintaining relationships sexually I did not see it in sadness, but I was worried he would feel pressured not to use condoms to make me feel better.

Last year, we participated in this study Partner, which really demonstrates that people with HIV can have sex without condom and not send virus if they take proper care.

I think if more people knew this, there would be less fear or stigma about HIV and no one would feel hesitant to be tested. "


How to treat HIV

• HIV is treated with antiretroviral drugs, which stop viral replication.

• Then the amount of virus in the blood is measured to see how well the treatment works.

• It can take up to six months for this viral load to become undetectable.

• People with HIV who receive effective treatment for HIV and whose viral load has not been detected for six months or more, cannot transmit the virus through sex.

• The NHS, UK public health services, said that condoms are the most effective way to protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STDs).


The story of Alex

Alex
Alex is sure Max will take the medicine "because his health depends on it."

"My first impression of Max was that he was very sure of himself.

I met him at a United Kingdom Green Party political conference. I am with a group of young homosexuals – we may be a bit intimidating as a collective – and even so he comes and says: "Hi."

I found it I was an HIV positive day after I met him, when he posts it on his Facebook status next to the photo with the medicine.

One of the reasons I was attracted to him was that he was so open when discussing that he had HIV. I always admire her confidence and her refusal to submit to social pressure.

I also like the fact that, even when he deals with the impact of his diagnosis, he devotes some of his time and emotional energy to trying to help others.

We met a few months after the conference and that's where it all began.

Max and Alex.
Max and Alex have been in a relationship for two years.

Not I am afraid outsidepositivenot at all. On the contrary, I feel sad because I know that after diagnosis, I experience rejection from others.

When having unprotected sex, I am not at all worried about contracting HIV because I knew that my girlfriend was taking the medicine.

I trust him completely. Some people say that people with viruses may not take their medication, but that is only prejudice. If you live with HIV, your health depends on taking the pill every day. That's not something you forget.

I haven't told my whole family that Max is HIV positive, I don't think that's important.

I told my parents before taking him home for dinner, but only because he took his pills with dinner and didn't want me to get up from the table to do it.

It is unfortunate that it was not disclosed better than HIV may not be transmitted. Too many people suffer from stigma around the disease for no reason.

Opinions of people about HIV anchored in the past. We must encourage change. "


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