Happily ever after

Ignorance really is not bliss - Mary Turner. (AP Photo/Darryl Bush, File)

by Mary Turner
HIV Health Columnist

Since the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, wedding bells have been tolling all over the place. I send heartfelt congratulations to everyone who is now able to fulfill a dream of wedded bliss with the love of your life.

Happily ever after is easier to achieve and maintain if both spouses are HIV-, or if they take steps to protect each other from infection. Educating yourself about risk factors and minimizing those factors is paramount in living an infection-free life. However, even if you are now in a committed monogamous relationship, you can’t forget past behaviors.

Remember the old adage: When you have sex with someone, you also have sex with every person that person ever had sex with. The same is true of other risky behaviors such as sharing razors, toothbrushes, or needles.

If you’ve been in a committed relationship for a period of time and know that you and your partner are infection free (or you’ve been managing that infection well), then continue to do so. If you’re just getting into a serious relationship (or even if you’re doing the casual thing), do both of you a favor by getting tested and sharing your results with each other.

Ignorance really is not bliss. There is enough drama in life without worrying about whether a potentially lethal virus has taken up residence in your body. Know what you’re dealing with so you can take care of yourself. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as “Obamacare,” broadens the access that people have to affordable healthcare by insuring coverage for pre-existing conditions such as HIV/AIDS. Educate yourself on what your options for insurance/Medicare/Medicaid coverage really are and then shop for an insurance plan that best suits your need.

Alas, Oklahoma and several of our surrounding states graciously refused Federal expansion of Medicaid coverage to our residents (billions of dollars in healthcare), but you may still qualify for coverage. The ACA also strives to make medications more affordable so that out-of-pocket expenses will be lower.

Remember that private insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and they may not be as forthright about your options as they could be. You can visit www.aids.gov to get more information about what the law provides and also find other resources to help you access medications or other treatments if you are HIV+.

Prevention is still the best course of action, but the world doesn’t have to end if that didn’t happen. So, here’s another shout out and congratulations to all the happy couples who plan to walk down the aisle in the coming weeks and months. I wish you all love and happiness to the moon and back. (p.s. your straight single ally friends like wedding cake!)

The Gayly – August 9, 2015 @ 7:15am.