Talking to your partner

How do I discuss protection from HIV with my partner?

There is no one 'correct' way to initiate a discussion with a partner about HIV prevention. How we approach this topic may depend on the nature of the relationship, as well as the personalities involved. Many people find it difficult to talk about sex. When we are discussing HIV prevention with a long-term partner, such as a spouse, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, it can sometimes be hard to talk about protection, including condom use, without touching on sensitive topics such as commitment, trust and emotional intimacy.

Although it can be challenging to discuss mutual protection from HIV with a partner, it is important that we all talk about it. Avoiding the topic does not make HIV go away. You might want to think in advance about how you will raise the topic with your partner. If you are having difficulty deciding how you might do that, consider seeking counselling through a local organization specialized in HIV, family planning or a women's organization.

For long-term couples, going together for HIV counselling and testing is a good way to work through any HIV-related issues. As the presence of an untreated sexually transmitted infection increases a person's vulnerability to get infected by HIV, each partner should also be taking measures to protect themselves from infections and/or getting immediate treatment. Testing clarifies each partner's HIV status, which can help couples come up with their own informed HIV-prevention plan. In addition, a trained counsellor can also provide information, answer questions, and promote discussion about sex between partners.

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