What about my partner—are they now at risk of getting HIV, too?
Your sexual partner is at risk of getting HIV. Follow these tips to help prevent spreading the virus:
- If you don’t have a steady partner, always use a condom, even if your viral load is undetectable. You don’t want to contract a resistant strain of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STI), such as syphilis or hepatitis C, which might impact your immune system.
- If you are in a long-term relationship, make sure your partner is not at risk of getting HIV. First, make sure you get treated. If you take your HIV medication exactly as directed and have regular follow-ups with your doctor, your viral load will become undetectable within six months of initiating the anti-HIV treatment. Once your viral load is undetectable, if you continue taking your treatment and you don’t have or acquire any other STI, you are very unlikely to transmit the virus to anyone. The key is not to forget your anti-HIV pills and not to get any other STI.
- If you’re in a long-term relationship with an HIV-negative partner and you are in the first six months of treatment, your partner can benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is a treatment in which your HIV-negative partner takes a very specific anti-HIV medication proven to lower the risk of acquiring HIV from you. In clinical trials, PrEP was shown to be more than 90% effective in reducing the risk of acquiring HIV when used consistently. PrEP would only be indicated for your partner until you become undetectable and stay undetectable for at least six months with no other STI.
What if I’m pregnant—will my baby have HIV as well?
If you’re pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, know that HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, if you take your medication correctly, you can avoid passing the virus along to your baby—by some estimates, you can reduce the chance by 99%.
I feel like I should tell my family and friends, but I’m not sure—should I?
Many people are worried about whether or not to tell others about an HIV diagnosis. If you’re newly diagnosed, you don’t have to tell everyone immediately. Start with your partner, who needs to know. You may also want to talk with a close friend or family member.
If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with people you’re close to, you may prefer to speak with a healthcare professional or join a support group. The important thing is to make sure you don’t get isolated, especially in the first few weeks after your diagnosis.
Dos and don'ts for people living with HIV/AIDS