HIV: Relationships and Sexual Partners
AIDS Meds published the following article on the
For those who are single and are HIV positive, if and when to disclose can be addressed in different ways. Some people prefer to get the issue out into the open immediately. They will make their HIV infection known right away, sometimes even before a first date. Others prefer to wait and see if the relationship is going to develop beyond a first date or casual dating. Still others feel that as long they’re having safer sex, the risk is minimal to the other person, so why even bring the subject up.
With regards to dating, or in casual or anonymous sexual situations, conventional wisdom holds that people with HIV are supposed to inform other people before having sex with them. In many states, there are specific laws relating to disclosure which actually make it a crime not to disclose. Most of these laws were passed in the early years of the epidemic and reflected ignorance and fear about HIV. As a matter of practicality, they have generally proven difficult to enforce.
The reality is that, if you’re practicing safer sex consistently, the risk to others is low, and ultimately what realistically matters most is what you do sexually, not what you say.
Perhaps the real benefit of disclosing to a date or to a casual or anonymous sex partner is for you personally. It takes strength of character to be honest in such a circumstance. At the same time, telling someone you are HIV positive at the beginning of a possible relationship or before having sex puts you in a vulnerable position. It’s never easy to predict if you’ll receive a positive or negative response.
Although now many more people know about safer sex and how the virus is transmitted, fear and stigma are still a reality in relation to HIV, and disclosure can stir up very strong emotions in others. You need to know that your status will deter some from proceeding further while many will not allow it stand in the way of either sex or a relationship.
General dating and sexual partner disclosure issues to consider:
- Keep what you say as simple and as direct as possible.
- Give yourself credit if you have been practicing safer sex with the sexual partner you’re disclosing your status to. You are already behaving responsibly with that person.
- If the person you’re disclosing to reacts negatively, remember that’s only one person. Not everyone is going to react the same way.
- Remember that you should give the person you’re disclosing your status to some time process the information. Whatever their reaction may be at first, whether negative or positive, be aware that reactions can change in time.
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