The ‘normality’ of living as a gay serodiscordant couple in Sydney, Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • Serodiscordant couples are often understood through a discourse of HIV-risk or researched in terms of the psychological stressors they face. However, due to antiretroviral treatments people living with HIV can achieve undetectable viral loads, which not only make them non-infectious to partners, but allow them to think of their lives and relationships as safe and viable. These realisations mean that serodiscordant couples often embrace an HIV 'normalisation' discourse. In this article, we argue that this discourse of HIV 'normalisation' can overlook the more nuanced complexity of issues still faced by couples today, which reveal how their experiences of 'normal' are sometimes challenged and are not necessarily 'normal'. Utilising semi-structured interviews with 21 gay men in serodiscordant relationships in Sydney, Australia, we draw on the concept of 'home' life to explore how men engage with discourses of normalisation to describe and enact their relationships. We argue that although HIV is managed well enough to be insignificant in the context of home life, experiences or anticipation of stigma in public often remind couples that they are yet to be considered 'normal' socially.

publication date

  • 2020