Talking about HIV can be awkward for both of you, because it can
mean broaching taboo subjects. But these steps can reduce red faces.
Open up a nonjudgmental dialogue about sex and drugs. Explain
that HIV is an epidemic in our community and that no one’s immune: HIV
rates among monogamous married women, teens and seniors are growing.
Also, statistics show that many positive people either do not know or
do not disclose their status to their partners. Discuss safe sex and
condoms, and tell patients that you’re educating everyone about
prevention and testing—you’re not singling anyone out.
Encourage positive patients to practice prevention. Some
positive patients on HIV treatment may believe that if their viral load
is low or undetectable, they can’t infect others. Urge HIV positive
patients to use condoms, not only to protect their partners, but
themselves—from other sexually transmitted diseases that can cause HIV
to progress more quickly.
Be sensitive to concerns about anonymity and testing. Many
patients are fearful of whether their test results will be reported to
their workplace, their insurance providers or the government. If you’re
not sure, your local AIDS service organization will know the reporting
procedures in your state. To find one near you, contact your local
department of health or visit www.thebody.com.