“We both know Ben can’t pass on HIV”
Ben is living with HIV but his husband Chris is not. They both know it’s going to stay that way because people living with HIV who are on effective treatment can’t pass it on.
‘The most important fact is that if your partner is on effective HIV medication, there’s zero chance of being infected,’ Chris says. ‘People don’t know that, and they still think that even if someone’s on medication they can still catch it which isn’t true.’
The couple is sharing their story to help educate people about how HIV is and isn’t passed on in the hope of tackling the stigma that still surrounds HIV.
‘Being HIV positive shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone being in a relationship,’ Ben says. ‘You can be a couple in a relationship where one partner is HIV positive and the other isn’t, and you can still enjoy a regular relationship and have sex like any other couple.’
The fact that people on effective treatment can’t pass it on is based on robust evidence from nearly 900 couples over several years where one partner was HIV positive and the other was HIV negative. There were over 58,000 recorded acts of sex without a condom and zero HIV transmissions.
‘There can be emotional challenges accepting a positive diagnosis, for both partners, but as long as you take your medication regularly and look after yourself, it’s perfectly possible to be in a healthy mixed diagnosis relationship,’ Ben says.
‘Being HIV positive shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone being in a relationship. And on that basis, don’t let a positive diagnosis be a barrier to being with someone.’
Chris echoes this sentiment and speaks about the impact HIV stigma has had on them. ‘Ben’s HIV status doesn’t define our relationship. If you love someone, you love them for who they are. If it’s unconditional love, it doesn’t matter.
‘I feel very protective of Ben and I always think the best of him. It doesn’t ruin relationships and it hasn’t impacted us – in a way, it’s made us stronger.’
Ben and Chris are just one example of thousands and thousands of couples around the world who haven’t let HIV have a negative impact on their relationship.
You can play your part in changing the course of HIV in the UK by getting tested.
It is important to get tested for HIV regularly as it is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV or not. If you have HIV, the earlier you find out the sooner you can access life-saving treatment and support and live a long healthy life. In most cases HIV is passed on because people are not aware they have it and the longer you live with undiagnosed HIV the more likely it is for it to seriously damage your immune system. Find out: