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Partner wants to keep me secret
Jan 24, 2000

Dr. Remien,

First of all, thank you for the work you do on this forum, the answers you give help me quite a bit. In my case I am positive and my girlfriend of 1 year is negative. The are some people in our circle of aquaintences that are aware of my status and as a result my girlfriend objects to letting on that we are dating. She introduces me as her room mate or friend. This hurts me and makes me feel like I am her dirty little secret, I have told her this but she refuses to change. She fears that she will be forever labelled as having AIDS if people knew we are together. I find this situation totally unacceptable but I do not want to end the relationship. What do you think?

Response from Dr. Remien

It seems to me that you face a very difficult challenge. It is my opinion that each partner's feelings about disclosure of HIV status needs to be respected and considered. At the same time it can be very burdensome to have to keep it a secret. And clearly it is complicated when there are two people involved and the information to be disclosed is that they are in a "mixed" status relationship.

From your description it sounds like your girlfriend needs to examine the lack of trust she seems to have of your acquaintances and also of the intense stigma she is attaching to your HIV+ status. However, BOTH of you need to listen to each other's feelings and concerns on the issue. It seems to me that things cannot remain as they are for very long. I would hope that with open and honest communication the two of you can come up with a solution that you are both comfortable with. If you don't feel you can do this on your own a few visits with a counselor could prove to be very helpful.

Good luck.


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