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      Intimate relationships in young adults with perinatally acquired HIV: partner considerations.

      AIDS Care

      psychology, Young Adult, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, HIV Seropositivity, epidemiology, utilization, transmission, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical, statistics & numerical data, London, Male, Qualitative Research, Questionnaires, Self Concept, Self Disclosure, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Partners, Adolescent, Condoms

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          Due to developments in anti-retroviral treatment, an increasing number of children with perinatally acquired HIV are now surviving into late adolescence and young adulthood. This cohort is facing normative challenges in terms of their intimate relationships as well as challenges that face all individuals with HIV regardless of the route of transmission (for example, concerns about disclosure). There may be additional issues specific to having grown up with HIV that affect intimate relationships, for example, the awareness of being HIV positive before the onset of intimate relationships and the way that identity is shaped by having lived with HIV from a young age. To date there has been some limited research on the experience of intimate relationships in perinatally infected adolescents but none in young adults. This exploratory study examined, in depth, experiences of intimate relationships in perinatally acquired young adults and how they perceived having grown up with HIV to have affected such relationships. Seven participants (five females, two males) aged 18-23 years, were interviewed, with the data analysed according to the principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Three themes emerged that related to partners' perceptions of HIV: (1) HIV being viewed by partners as being linked to AIDS and sexual transmission, (2) discrepancy between young people and their partners' views of HIV, (3) partner views of risk of HIV transmission. There were strong links between participants' personal experiences of HIV-related challenges, for example, disclosure and HIV-related stigma, and their thinking about the perceptions of partners. These findings have important implications for supporting young people in disclosing their HIV status to intimate partners in appropriate ways. Suggestions for future research are offered.

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