Is there any treatment or diagnostic study for an asymptomatic patient whose partner has tested positive for HIV? In addition to practicing safer sex, what other precautions are recommended for this patient?
—Clover Smith, RNC, MSN, CFNP, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Counseling is a very important part of caring for discordant partners to assist with coping and support. Other issues include information for keeping healthy, risk reduction, and in some instances, family planning. Risk reduction includes the use of latex condoms every time the couple has sex and letting the partners know that sex with an outside partner could pose health risks. The negative partner should have an HIV test once a year. The higher the viral load of the HIV-positive person, the more likely that he or she will pass HIV to a sexual partner. Institution of antiretroviral therapy will lower the viral load, but the virus can still be transmitted.
—Jo Ann Deasy, PA-C, MPH (115-20)