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Is My Partner at Risk of Having HIV or AIDS?

Marcy has written about health and wellness for more than five years. She is the former manager of two large clinics in Austin, Texas.

How to find out whether your partner has HIV or an STD before you become intimate.

How to find out whether your partner has HIV or an STD before you become intimate.

Is HIV Still a Risk?

Yes, HIV (the Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is absolutely still a risk, in the United States as well as every other part of the world.

Unfortunately, many people believe this potentially devastating condition is old history. Some teenagers, who are in the age bracket often at risk, believe the disease no longer exists or that it's been cured.

This is untrue. It is just as important now to know the status of your mate or partner as ever.

As the former clinic administrator of a large HIV clinic in a major urban city, I learned quite a bit about how the virus is transmitted and which populations are at a higher risk.

Sadly, many people do not know their own status for this infection, so it's not enough to simply ask someone if they're "HIV Positive," you need to know for certain if they're in a high-risk group and then ask them to be tested.

We live in a world where HIV has become a manageable disease, not an automatic death sentence. But because of its risks, and because of the way it is passed from person to person, everyone should discuss this issue when a date turns into a partner.

People with AIDS can live long and happy lives. It's still important to know if your partner is infected with HIV.

People with AIDS can live long and happy lives. It's still important to know if your partner is infected with HIV.

How Can I Tell if Someone Is at Risk for HIV?

Basically, anyone can be at risk under certain circumstances. And yet, the disease is not that easy to catch from other persons. You cannot, however, tell someone is infected with HIV (or at risk of having it) just by looking at them.

Several factors can put a person at a higher risk of being infected with HIV or having AIDS. Here are the most common high-risk groups:

Persons who share needles:

If your partner has ever injected drugs, he or she can be at risk of having HIV. HIV is transmitted through body fluids, especially blood, and those who share needles are in a very high-risk group.

If you are considering a relationship with someone who admits they have used recreational drugs in the past, you should demand to know their exact status regarding HIV. It's easy to get tested at any number of community or public health facilities, and it's free. You can even learn the results within a matter of minutes, and if you agree to be tested together, you'll not only both know the results, you'll be there to offer moral support during the few minutes you're waiting for the results.

In addition, make certain your potential partner is not currently using drugs and has gotten appropriate counseling or treatment to deal with that issue. Aside from HIV and AIDS, drug use can have a serious effect on relationships, and can affect other parts of the user's health.

Men in same-sex relationships:

Because HIV is transmitted through body fluids, men who have had intimate contact with other men are at risk of contracting HIV.

If your prospective male mate has ever been in an intimate relationship with another man, you should insist they get tested before you go forward. Some men who have male partners are very responsible about getting tested regularly, but some do not reveal their status to others, or might think they are not infected but later learn they are.

Plan to get tested together and share the results, and always (always) use protection during intimacy. HIV can go undetected for long periods of time, so one 'clean' test does not mean there's no infection in the body.

Persons who have had blood transfusions:

Although in recent decades, blood donors and blood products are tested for HIV, this was not always the case, and it's not necessarily a uniform practice in all countries.

If your partner has ever had a blood transfusion anywhere, at any time, consider requesting a blood test to ensure they were not exposed to the virus.

Those who are sexually active:

It is commonly assumed by medical professionals that anyone and everyone who has been sexually intimate is at risk of HIV. Although most people feel they 'know' the person they are with, if you or your partner have ever been intimate with another person, you should consider being tested for HIV.

In other words, if you are sexually active at all, you should take precautions and stay informed.

What if My Partner Has HIV?

While it is sad and even devastating news to learn you or the person you care for has HIV, it does not have to be the end of the world.

If you begin dating someone with HIV, you can likely do most of the things you might normally do in a relationship. You can have fun together, play sports, plan a future, get married, and even consider having children.

Women with HIV need to pay attention to their health in order to have a safe pregnancy, and although the rate of transmission is now greatly reduced for women with HIV, there's still a risk, and it might be safest to avoid pregnancy and consider adoption.

There are some concerns about HIV and miscarriage, but your physician can guide you, and early prenatal care is essential.

The most important point, though, is to learn the status of your partner before you begin intimacy. You can certainly have a relationship (a long and happy one, from all accounts), but know the facts and address them as a team.

Are Senior Citizens and Older People at Risk for HIV?

Yes, definitely!

Unfortunately, recent statistics show that HIV infection among seniors (those who are in their older years, say, age 60 and above) is increasing. The number of new infections in seniors increases at a more rapid rate than in most other age groups.

While the overall number of seniors infected with HIV is low, the rate at which it spreads in this population is on the rise.

Seniors often feel HIV or AIDS is a disease that affects only young people or that it's isolated to high-risk groups (gays or substance abusers).

Many seniors find themselves without a partner in their later years and are understandably thrilled if they meet someone and develop a relationship.

If you, or someone you know, is in this age bracket and has started dating, be aware that testing is very important at this stage of life, too. Home tests are available and can be administered privately (in your own home) with confidential results. It's worth the peace of mind to know the answer to that question.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Marcy Goodfleisch


Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on July 03, 2013:

Hi, Penlady - I'm so sorry for the loss of your neighbor; I've lost acquaintances to AIDS, too, and it is heartbreaking. Thanks for commenting here - as with you, I truly hope everyone becomes more conscious of this virus, and that those who may be affected seek proper care. There are more options every year for managing this disease.

penlady from Sacramento, CA on July 03, 2013:

To me, AIDS is just as scary now as it was when it came out in the 80s. Unfortunately, people don't seem to take it nearly as serious now as they did in those days. That's really ashamed.

While there's now medication to slow down the disease, I've read that it's very expensive. And without this medication, you'll suffer greatly with this illness.

I once had a neighbor to die of AIDS. There was no medication in those days. It was so sad to see how he had declined: he looked as if he weighed 90 lbs. or less, he lost all his hair, he was completely unrecognizable. That for me was a reality that this disease is nothing to take lightly - of course, no disease is.

I hope that your article will educate those who have either ignored the dangers of AIDS or are too young to remember when it first appeared.

Voted up and useful.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on January 06, 2013:

Hi, alocsin - I remember the early days, too - I even recall hearing a medical expert say there would be a cure in 10-12 years. As you say, it's sad that has not come to pass. Thanks for reading & commenting!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 06, 2013:

I think getting tested is probably the most sensible first-step before you decide to have unsafe sex with anyone. I was involved with AIDS prevention programs back in the early 80s, and they predicted back then that the disease would be with us in the 21st century. Sadly, they were right. Voting this Up and Useful.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on December 31, 2012:

Hi, Debbie - Happy New Year to you! I agree - this doesn't have to be scary if people are diligent in taking care of their health and in being tested. It's so important, for everyone involved, to know if you're dealing with that virus.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on December 31, 2012:

this is a very scary subject but it doesn't have to be if you like you said keep watch on your health.. make sure you keep getting tested if you are in any of these situations.

great hub


Happy new Year


Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on December 31, 2012:

I appreciate your comments fpherj - I saw some heartbreaking things at the clinic, such as very young people who were infected by their first partner ever, and at least one physician who was infected through blood contact when a needle slipped as he cared for a patient.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on December 31, 2012:

Thanks, Pamela - I agree, the best goal is prevention, through education and through behavior. The issue of HIV and AIDS in Africa is terrible - that country is not prepared to address the epidemic, and it's out of control. At least in more modern cultures, we have a chance of keeping innocent people from becoming infected.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on December 31, 2012:

Hi, Sis - thanks so much for your kind comments! And Happy New Year to you!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on December 31, 2012:

Thanks, Billy - and Happy New Year to you, too! So many people mistakenly believe HIV is no longer an issue, and that breaks my heart.

Suzie from Carson City on December 31, 2012:

Marcy....Once again, I am reminded how wonderful it is to be totally free from concerns such as this. It has to be so scary out there!

It frightens me just to think about the people playing musical partners....I tend to worry about it all for those who may not "use their heads."

Yes, it is a fact and will always be an issue of concern. Actually, your hub is page one google material and I hope it is read millions of times!!

Great job on this Marcy!...UP+++

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 31, 2012:

It is a shame that people have not learned how to avoid this horrible disease. I know they have better treatments now, but it is much better to now get the disease in the first place. This is a very informative hub. Well done.

Angela Blair from Central Texas on December 31, 2012:

Excellent information -- far beyond anything I know about HIV. This Hub is indeed a public service, well written and informative. Happy New Year -- Best/Sis

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2012:

A valuable hub Marcy; thank you for taking on an important topic. Have a very Happy New Year.