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What Men Should Know

Mixed but matched

If you’re a man who has sex with men (MSM), you may be familiar with the concept of ‘forbidden love.’

This is how intimate relationships between men were seen by society for hundreds of years. Thankfully, this primitive and ignorant way of seeing sexual intimacy between men has been challenged and changed and now it has become normalised and accepted in many countries, (although there is still a long way to go before equality and true freedom can be enjoyed by MSM around the world). Sadly, MSM are still often victims of prejudice and ignorance in many parts of the world.

But even within the MSM community, there used to be another prejudiced perception of ‘forbidden love.’ It was assumed for years by many men who have sex with men that an HIV-positive man and an HIV-negative man could not be together sexually without putting the HIV-negative man at risk of becoming HIV-positive too.

This caused a lot of stigma and discrimination to be directed towards HIV-positive men and also resulted in many HIV-positive men not disclosing or being in denial of their HIV status so as to avoid this discrimination or being shamed.

The good news is that this ignorance and judgement should now also be in the past because these days it is easily possible for HIV-positive and HIV-negative men to have sex, remain healthy and not pass the virus on to one another as long as they take the right precautions.

In fact, these mixed-status relationships are steadily becoming more common and understood and are also known as serodiscordant couples.

A serodiscordant couple is any couple where one person is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative. For this type of mixed-status relationship to remain healthy and thrive, both men in the relationship should take steps to take care of themselves and one another.

The HIV-negative guy can get a prescription and go onto Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, also known as PrEP and this will protect him from HIV transmission from 92- to 99 %.

The HIV-positive guy can take his ARVs as prescribed, and eventually the HIV virus will become undetectable in his blood, and although he will still be HIV-positive, he will not be able to pass it on.

So, if you and a guy you really like are well-matched, but your HIV status is mixed, there is no reason you can’t be together if you take these preventative measures.

To find the best way to get onto treatment phone/message/WhatsApp Call4Care on 0716833226 or 060 633 2512 (Cape Town).

The Little Poof is a contributing writer. These are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova Health Institute and its associates.