Researchers in Switzerland followed 3,736 adults with HIV who had started highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) before 2002. Every six months, patients were asked whether they had had sexual intercourse with a stable partner.
When starting HAART, 52% of participants reported a stable partnership. This decreased to around 46% after five years of follow up. A stable partnership was associated with a slower rate of disease progression and an increase in CD4 blood cell count and viral suppression.
The reasons for this are unknown, but the authors speculate that people with a stable partner may have less depression.
For a healthcare professional caring for someone with HIV, the absence of a stable partnership indicates that the patient may progress more rapidly to the later stages of the disease, they conclude.