A recent Justice Department report has cited extensive discriminatory and stigmatizing policies by the Nevada Department of Corrections. The NDC institutes a policy that houses inmates living with HIV apart from the general population, based on unfounded and scientifically disproven fears that HIV can be casually contracted.
Paige Rawl is 17 and HIV positive, but while her life has been shaped by HIV it isn’t ruled by it.
When Paige Rawl starts her senior year at Indianapolis’s Herron High School next month, she’ll be cheer captain and a member of the student government and prom committee. This summer, the 17-year-old held down a part-time job at Hollister, hawking the popular Southern California-inspired clothing brand.
The all-American girl — who happens to be HIV positive.
When it comes to relationships, some HIV positive people have a clear cut policy on the serostatus of potential partners. Some will only be with another HIV positive person, some will only be with an HIV negative partner and for some, it’s not even part of the “Should I get involved with this person?” decision. Of the four relationships I’ve had since the person I became positive from, only one was HIV positive. I’m one of the “It has no bearing on my decision.” people. Nonetheless, being HIV positive with an HIV negative parter does come with some challenges, but what relationship doesn’t?
For someone who is HIV positive and in, or considering a sexual relationship with a positive person, the risk of HIV transmission is an important issue. In the summer of 2011, results from the HPTN 045 study were released stating that with an undetectable viral load, the risk of HIV transmission was decreased by up to 96%. Based on this study, and a few much smaller studies at the time, it seemed that the scarlet letter that was placed on HIV positive people as being infectious was lifted for the lucky ones who were able to achieve an undetectable viral load.
Any relationship can be difficult, but when one person is living with a life threatening disease with the social stigma that HIV still carries, many problems and issues are added to the mix. How do you tell your partner if you just found out you have the virus? What are the various strategies that are being researched regarding preventing HIV transmission? What are the options if considering having children? What are the issues other discordant couples are dealing with? Disclosing your HIV status to a partner is an extremely difficult task, whether it is someone you have just met or a long time partner.