With billions of people across the globe afflicted with Herpes simplex virus, timely testing is
The HIV stigma and myths surrounding STIs lead many to believe that you can contract the infection simply by being around others who have HIV. Despite this common belief, HIV cannot spread simply through sharing a cup or hugging a loved one.
If you want to learn how to live with an HIV-positive person in a supportive, safe way, we can help you learn more. Providing support for HIV-positive individuals in your life can make a world of difference. Below, our team from Rapid STD Testing discusses basic household safety for individuals with HIV, including how you can provide support for the loved ones in your life.
Understanding HIV: Dispelling Myths and Embracing Facts
The first step to living with HIV-positive loved ones is understanding how the infection works. Like many STIs, HIV has a stigma around it, causing many to believe they can easily contract it simply by being sneezed on by an HIV-positive individual. This, however, is a myth. HIV transmission only occurs through genital secretion and blood. Because of this, you can only contract HIV through unsafe sex or through blood exposure.
Keep in mind the blood or bodily fluids would need to enter your system for you to become infected. For example, if your HIV-positive roommate knicked their finger while cutting vegetables and you wiped up the mess, you would not necessarily be at risk of exposure unless the blood managed to enter your system through your eyes, mouth, nose, etc. Other fluids, like saliva, do not transmit HIV, so you do not need to worry about sharing straws, hugging, sharing food, or coming into close contact.
Because HIV does not transmit through all bodily fluids, you have an extremely low risk of contracting it through casual contact. Essentially, if your roommate has HIV, you’re highly unlikely to contract it unless you’re engaging in sexual activities or handling their needles.
Modern HIV medication reduces transmission risks even more, allowing individuals to have safe sex with HIV. Antiretroviral HIV medications can reduce viral loads to an undetectable amount, allowing HIV-positive individuals to have sex without transmitting HIV to their partners.
Between modern HIV medications reducing transmission risks and the facts showing the low odds of contraction, you don’t have much to worry about when living with an HIV-positive roommate, assuming everyone educates themselves in advance. Explore additional resources on HIV education to learn more:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resource Library
- National Institute of Health HIV Prevention Training Resources
- HIV.gov Drug Database
At Rapid STD Testing, we also provide numerous educational resources on HIV and relationships. For example, if you want to know the answer to, “How long can HIV stay dormant?” check out our blog.
Creating a Supportive and Safe Home Environment
Even though the transmission risk is low, you'll still likely want to do research on how to live with an HIV-positive person. You want to provide emotional support while also developing a safe home environment that protects you and your loved one.
So, how can you support a family member who has recently been diagnosed with HIV? We recommend the following:
- Acknowledge their experience: First and foremost, you should acknowledge and validate any and all emotions they’re experiencing. An HIV diagnosis can be traumatizing, so you don’t want to de-validate their emotions. On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to overreact if they’re handling it well.
- Educate yourself: Educating yourself on the topic shows your roommate that you care about providing them with support.
- Educate other family members: While you may have gone the extra mile to find educational materials, your roommate’s other loved ones may not have. You can provide people in their close circle (who know about the diagnosis) with educational resources to prevent misconceptions.
- Avoid the misconceptions: HIV comes with misconceptions, like the idea that it only affects men having sex with men. You may have internalized misconceptions that you need to address to steer clear of to avoid hurting your roommate.
- Help them begin treatment: A great way to support your HIV-positive loved one is by helping them seek treatment. You can help them schedule appointments, take them to their visits, and more.
- Encourage healthy habits: Healthy habits, such as diet changes and exercise, can mitigate the long-term effects of HIV. If you want to support your roommate, you can join them on morning walks, healthy dinner nights, and more.
- Help them find support: Your support may not be enough. You can help your HIV-positive loved one connect with others experiencing the same thing by showing them online or in-person support groups.
- Maintain basic normalcy: After getting back into the swing of things, you want to still treat your roommate as a normal person so they don’t feel isolated.
Beyond emotional support, you should implement a few practical measures in the household to keep everyone safe. You may want to purchase a sharps container for safe disposal of medical equipment in case your roommate needs to use needles for their medication.
You can also stock the house with latex gloves, disinfectants, and other sanitary products. This way, if your roommate accidentally injures themself and needs your help, you’ll be prepared to dress their wound and clean up without placing yourself at risk.
Navigating Relationships and Sexual Health
Determining how to live with an HIV-positive person changes a bit when that roommate is also your sexual partner. You want to protect your sexual health while also maintaining your relationship. We recommend the following:
- Maintain open communication: Your romantic relationship will not work if you cannot maintain open communication about your HIV status. You and your partner should both feel comfortable discussing things like recent appointments, test results, doctor recommendations, and more. Make sure your partner knows that they can tell you anything.
- Follow safe sex practices: While HIV medication can lower transmission risks, you still must use protection methods to prevent contraction. Safe sex practices involve using condoms from start to finish and not sharing sex toys, among other things.
- Consider using PrEP: You can also consider PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a pre-exposure medication used to prevent HIV transmission. Since you’re at an increased risk of contracting HIV, you can speak with your provider about taking PrEP.
- Schedule regular screenings: You should schedule regular testing for HIV throughout your relationship so you can begin prompt treatment in case you contract the infection. Prompt treatment helps lower your risk of life-threatening conditions like AIDS. You can order same-day STD testing from Rapid STD Testing for fast and discreet results.
- Work on building trust: Your relationship will not work if you do not trust one another. You should always offer each other honest opinions and up-to-date information from appointments. You can work on building trust by showing your emotional support so your partner feels more comfortable opening up.
If your sexual partner has HIV, you should get tested regularly. Order a rapid STD test from Rapid STD Testing today, then visit a local clinic to complete the screening process.
Do You Need To Be Tested for HIV?
Providing emotional support for HIV-positive loved ones can make all the difference in their lives. Now that you know how to live with an HIV-positive individual, you may be wondering whether you need to get tested. If you think you’re at risk of transmission, order a 10-panel STD test from Rapid STD Testing, visit a local clinic, or call our team at (866) 872-1888 with any questions.