Past present: Relationship dynamics may differ among discordant gay male couples depending on HIV infection history.

Published: October 1, 2013


Discordant couples are unique because neither partner shares the same serostatus. Yet research overlooks how they became discordant, mistakenly assuming that they have always been that way and, by extension, that being discordant impacts the relationship in a similar manner. This study examines HIV infection history and its impact on relationship dynamics using qualitative data from 35 discordant gay male couples. Most couples met discordant (69%); however, many did not (31%). Those couples that met discordant felt being discordant had a lesser impact on their sexual and relational satisfaction, while those that did not meet discordant felt it had a greater impact, reporting sexual frustration and anxiety over seroconverting. This suggests that relationship dynamics may differ for discordant couples depending on HIV infection history. HIV prevention and counseling services for discordant couples can be better tailored and more effective when differences in HIV infection history are recognized.

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