In the context of HIV/Aids, discordant couples are where one partner is HIV-positive and the other -negative. There are over 300,000 such couples in Kenya.
Managing HIV transmission in discordant couples is crucial. Prevention methods such as use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) reduce the risk of transmission between the partners. Counselling, safe sexual practices and regular testing are essential to prevent the spread of the virus.
With advancements in HIV treatment and prevention, there are ways for discordant couples to safely have children without the uninfected partner or the baby getting infected. They should consult healthcare professionals in HIV care and reproductive medicine to explore the safest and most suitable method.
Discordant couples face various challenges related to their relationship and health. For instance, the HIV negative partner may fear contracting the virus, especially if they want to have children. That can lead to emotional stress and strain the relationship.
Both partners may experience stigma and discrimination from family members, friends and society due to the HIV positive status of one partner. Living with the constant awareness of the risk of transmission can lead to emotional stress, anxiety and depression for both partners.
Access to healthcare, including regular HIV testing, counselling and ART, is crucial for managing the health of both partners. Limited access to healthcare facilities can be a significant challenge.
Planning for the long-term future, including caregiving arrangements and financial security, can be complicated due to the uncertainty surrounding the progression of HIV and potential health challenges.
Support from healthcare providers, counsellors, support groups, family, friends and the government can significantly help discordant couples to safely navigate these challenges.
Mutual understanding, open communication and adherence to medical advice are key factors in managing the complexities of a discordant relationship.
- Kelvin Simbi, Kericho