A mixed-status couple is one where one of the partners is HIV positive and the other not.

The possibility of HIV infection is a constant reality, but there are ways to minimise the risk.

Dr Sindi van Zyl, a specialist in the HIV and Aids field, believes disclosure of your HIV status should be done as soon as possible.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, because we all fear rejection.

However, honesty is important to protect each other.

So just how safe is it for mixed-status couples to have sex?

Dr Sindi says the important concept to understand is managing bodily fluids. “We want the couple to have a healthy sex life while protecting the negative partner from contracting HIV. That is why status disclosure is key, so that the couple can take the necessary steps.”

How can the risk of transmission be minimised?

  • The HIV-positive partner should get and stay on antiretroviral therapy. The medication will lower his or her viral load and keep them healthy.
  • Use condoms. They are effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • HIV can be transmitted through blood, vaginal fluid and semen. Activities that do not involve the exchange of these fluids carry no risk of transmission.
  • In the event of a condom breaking during sex, the HIV-negative partner should be tested and, regardless of the outcome (there’s a window period before a positive result will show), start PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) treatment right away. This is antiretroviral treatment that is taken for 28 days and minimises the risk of HIV infection after exposure.

For more information and support, the national number for the Aid for Aids helpline is 0800 012 322

Source: CityPress