August 30th, 2010

Required Reading: In Love and “Serodiscordant”

newspapersBeing of a certain age, my wife and I still subscribe to the print version of the Sunday New York Times.  Since we also get the local rag, quite a bit of paper is deposited on our doorstep each week.

Worth it?  You bet, especially since occasionally there’s a gem in there like this week’s Modern Love column.  (I supposed we might have stumbled upon it if we’d just read it on line, but I doubt it.)  In a piece entitled “On the Precipice, Wings Spread”, Kerri Sandberg writes about dating (and ultimately marrying) her HIV-positive boyfriend:

Even though Theo appeared to fit into the lucky new “long-term non-progressor” category, his H.I.V. status taught us to savor each day because you never know how many you’ll have.  We did our best to maintain that balance sexually, too, creating a repertory that was spontaneous without being reckless, careful but not fearful. According to a guy on the Centers for Disease Control hot line, our brand of lesbian-inspired lovemaking posed a “slight risk” of transmission. But I also had a slight risk of dying from just about anything. What was I supposed to do, never leave the house?

HIV clinicians will recognize immediately this bit of denial, one that’s surprisingly common among our “serodiscordant” patients.  And even though annual testing is recommended for uninfected sexual partners of people with HIV, those that actually get tested seem to be the exception, not the rule.

But when you think about it further, and when the feelings are described as artfully as Ms. Sandberg did here, maybe that’s not so surprising after all.

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HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

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