Thanks to advancements in treatments, HIV has become a very manageable condition, and people with the virus can live long, happy lives.
But, more than that, they can enter a healthy and loving relationship with individuals who don’t have HIV. To prove that, Healthline talked to a few serodiscordant couples and asked them to share their real-life love story.
Not only are these couples an inspiration for the HIV community, but their touching, real-life stories could give Hollywood a run for its money.
Met in 2013
David and Johnny met while Johnny was working on a TV project. Johnny called David as a potential prospect for the show. After speaking for countless hours over the span of three days, they decided to meet in person. (David thought this meetup was a date, but Johnny thought it was a business dinner.)
David disclosed his HIV status to Johnny when they met face to face for the first time. He thought the “date” was going very well and hoped to see more of Johnny in the future. He wanted to give Johnny the option of pursuing a friendship or something more.
Johnny called his doctor when he left David’s house. He needed to understand more about HIV and didn’t want to embarrass anyone by asking a boatload of questions. His doctor assured him that since David’s virus was suppressed, Johnny’s chances of being exposed were negligible. His doctor also pointed out David’s honesty and believed it indicated a high level of trust.
David and Johnny are open about their sexual health with one another. When David goes to follow-up appointments, he shares his results with Johnny. When Johnny goes to get tested (every three months), he shares his results with David. Johnny’s doctor is looking into PrEP for him, and whether it’s more beneficial compared to his current medical regimen.
David and Johnny are planning on living a long life together. (They’re just settling on a wedding date!)
Met in 2015
Los Angeles, California
Eugene and Fredrick met on Facebook. Eugene ran across comments that Fredrick had made and liked what he had to say. They had a number of mutual friends, so Eugene decided to send him a friend request.
Their first date was a Bowie tribute concert. They knew right then that they were meant for each other. Fredrick had already learned that Eugene was living with HIV even before their date. (His status is indicated on his Facebook profile.) Fredrick had fallen for Eugene before they even met. In his words, “I had been holding out for a guy this evolved.” He was inspired by how deep and fearless Eugene is.
Eugene is under the constant care of an HIV specialist and is on a successful medical regimen. He has his blood work done every four months, and the virus is undetectable.
Fredrick is on PrEP, although he had to jump through some hoops to find the right specialist for him. He found his general practitioner to be of very little help and ignorant of PrEP.
The two always share their doctor updates with each other.
Because they run in similar social circles, the two find it odd they hadn’t met before Eugene sent that friend request, but they chalk that up to fate. Eugene says, “Had we met any other time, it wouldn’t have worked out. We were both working on ourselves before then.”
The couple uses their serodiscordant status to educate others and initiate dialogue. Not only is it important and central to their relationship, but by being vocal, they also hope they’re able to help others living with HIV feel less alone.
Met in 2003
Mark and Russ met online, but it took several months for them to meet in person. When they (finally) did, it was for drinks one night at a local gay bar in Atlanta.
The subject of HIV came up indirectly when Russ told Mark about when he had been very sick with pneumonia. (It was a very specific type that Mark wasn’t familiar with.) When Mark asked about it, Russ told him it affected people living with HIV.
Mark admits he wasn’t thrilled to find out about Russ’ status, but at the time, it didn’t affect him. (Russ was in a relationship, and Mark was single and new to Atlanta.)
A few years later, Russ went into renal failure. After several years on dialysis, he received a most-precious gift of a new kidney. He got his transplant in January 2013.
During those years, Mark and Russ had grown closer. They were both single then and realized they belonged together. They were married on April 16, 2016, at their church.
Russ’ viral load is undetectable, and he’s very religious about taking his medication. Mark explained that that is their “preventative measure.” He has discussed PrEP with his doctors, but they have said it isn’t necessary due to the extremely low-risk level.
The two attend one another’s doctor appointments as often as they can. Mark and Russ live in Atlanta and remain extremely active in the church they were married.