She describes herself as a happy wife with a tall, dark and handsome husband. The only catch? He’s had human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) since 1993.
Hanan, who is HIV-negative, took to Twitter on Sept 21 to share her story and dispel common myths about serodiscordant, or mixed-status, couples, gaining over 5,700 likes and 4,400 retweets.
Living with HIV positive partner: ‘We live like a normal married couple’
She shared a photo of a negative HIV test, writing in a mix of Malay and English: “Yes, I am HIV-negative, almost six years, married to an HIV+ guy. With HAART treatment, we live like a normal married couple!”
Hanan went on to say that she had already known about her husband’s HIV-positive status before their marriage, and that it was her choice to marry him.
While the post garnered droves of positive comments, many curious netizens also had questions for Hanan.
CAN MIXED-STATUS COUPLES HAVE SEX?
According to Hanan, her husband had an undetectable viral load when they got married, thanks to highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART).
A viral load is the amount of HIV present in a person’s bodily fluids. Effective HAART combines several anti-retroviral drugs to help people living with HIV lower their viral loads to undetectable levels, and improve their immune systems.
People with HIV who have an undetectable viral load effectively have no risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners, says the United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CAN THEY HAVE CHILDREN?
While Hanan and her husband do not have kids yet, she said that as long as she remains HIV-negative, any children that she has will be HIV-negative.
This is backed up by studies which show that couples like Hanan and her husband, where one is HIV-negative and the other has an undetectable HIV viral load, can safely conceive.
It is also important to note that consistency is key — people living with HIV have to stick to their treatment plan to maintain an undetectable viral load.
WHAT IS PREP?
One of the most common questions that netizens had for Hanan was whether she uses pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
People who are HIV-negative but are at risk of contracting HIV can choose to take PrEP daily, which prevents the virus from establishing itself in the body.
Hanan, whose husband’s viral load is undetectable and therefore untransmittable, clarified that she does not use PrEP.
DREAMING OF A LIFE WITHOUT STIGMA
Besides spreading awareness on Twitter under the handle @Suamikuhivpoz, Hanan told AsiaOne that she also runs WhatsApp support groups for people living with HIV and wives in serodiscordant relationships to share their problems.
“Not all problems can be solved, but at least they have a place and friends to share with,” she said.
With advances in medical science, HIV may no longer be a death sentence but for Hanan, a life without stigma is still a “big dream”.
This article was republished with permission from AsiaOne.
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