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Girlfriend just tested HIV+ and is pushing me away.
Sep 25, 2006

Greetings,

First off, let me say how comforting your website has been since my girlfriend and I found out she is HIV+. The best thing I have done for myself it to get educated as much as possible about HIV. I went from hysteria to relative calm the more I read here on your site. Thanks for your efforts.

I met this wonderful woman on the internet about 5 months ago. She was just looking for someone to chat with and not necessarily looking to fall in love. She was brutally beaten by her last boyfriend, and a year after leaving him, was raped at an after-hours party after leaving a club with friends. Along with the trauma of the incident, she was also dealing with the fact that she could be HIV+ so she would not entertain the idea of meeting me until she got her test results at the 6 month mark. She had alot of anxiety about possibly being HIV+ and despite my repeated efforts to get her to change her mind, absolutely didn't feel comfy starting a new relationship with someone until she had her test. Well, we ended up falling deeply in love with each other and have worked up a nice little relationship together, even tho it's only telephone and internet chat/emails. I have told her repeatedly that even if she is HIV+, I still want a relationship with her. We fully expected her to test negative because of the low odds of her contracting the virus and even had our first date all planned out. She was tested and got her results on Thursday and found out she is indeed HIV+. She's still in shock as it's only been 3 days since finding out. She thinks her life is over and she wants to just give up and wait to die.

I'm no mental health expert but I imagine this is a very common reaction to finding out you are HIV+. Is this true?

She's also telling me to go away and move on and that she can't have a relationship with me now. I'm fully committed to her whether or not she's HIV+ so I'm not going anywhere. The impact on our potential sex life together will obviously be significant because of her being + but it's not enough to make me want to run from this girl. I would give up sex completely for her without a doubt.

Is this a normal reaction as well? I mean to push your lover away? Should I just give her some time and not force my way in to helping her deal with this?

My thoughts are that she'll eventually come around and realize that her life is not over and she'll want to be with me. I haven't spoken to her but one time since she found out, which is when she told me the news. I ended up raising my voice at her for wanting to push me away and she hung up on me. Can't really blame her cuz she doesn't need me putting stress on her. I regret yelling but at the time my emotions were completely out of whack after hearing such shocking and devastating news, and on top of that her telling me she's dumping me when all I want is to be there for her.

What is the best thing I can do to help her right now? She knows me very well so the anxiety of meeting someone in person that she met on the web is non-existant. The only thing keeping her away now is her HIV. I have purchased a nice book about living with HIV for her and another autobiography book from a woman living with HIV in the hopes she to can get educated about HIV and perhaps find inspiration to want to live her life as normally as possible.

Thanks again for all your work you do on this site. It has truly been a blessing for me to have this resource. After finding out, I was a wreck, but the information on your wonderful website allowed me to become more educated about HIV and Mixed status couples and that gave me ALOT of comfort.

With great gratitude.

P.S. I have set up an email address specifically for correspondence with others who are affected by HIV or have a partner who is who can give me inspiration/advice on my situation. Please do not delete it from this post, it's one I created specifically for this so if the spam starts rolling in, it's not a big deal. helpuscope@hotmail.com

Response from Dr. Remien

It seems to me that you already know the answers to the questions that you ask. It is indeed normal for people to be "in shock" and have feelings of hopelessness when first finding out they are HIV positive. And it is rather typical to feel uninterested in sex or relationships at first, and to also fear getting involved in a relationship. Typically, these things change with time. It takes time for most people to achieve a sense of "normalcy;" and you can't really predict exactly how long this takes for any one person. But returning to feelings of normalcy is what happens to most people. Information and support help with this process. And many people can benefit from professional support and counseling.

Again, people need time and need to be given this time. Another person cannot force the process. Generally, the most supportive thing you can do is to let the person know you are "with them" and "there for them" while giving them the time and space that they need.

All of the above is generally true for loved ones of the person who receives a positive diagnosis. This person(s) also needs time to adjust and to experience a range of feelings before regaining a sense of normalcy.

As you have seen from much of the writing on this Forum, HIV need not be a reason for NOT having intimate relationships. Be patient and take care of yourself as well as "offering" your help to her, but also give her the space and time that she needs.


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