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Terrified of exposing my lover
Jul 14, 1999

Dear Dr. Remien: I am in a lesbian relationship and my lover, to her credit, was aware of my AIDS status before we began seeing each other, and decided she cared enough about me and was willing to work through this with me. My HUGE fear is exposing her. About 2 years ago my mother and I had a horrible accident and she was exposed (by me). Due to my Mom's already compromised health, she died from PCP last November - which was, I thought, extremely fast. It's difficult living with the knowledge that I am responsible for this, and, for this reason I am terrified about possibly causing another exposure. My question is: is nonoxinol 9 really effective? How would it be used for the highest level of safely? I love my girlfriend, and she is so supportive and nonjudgemental about my AIDS status. What is the most difficult for her, I believe is that she feels as though I have no interest in being intimate with her. She has gone as far as voicing this, and it's painful for her. I absolutely adore her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. Please help me save our relationship, and my mind!

Response from Dr. Remien

It is perfectly natural to fear exposing someone you love to HIV. However, HIV is not an easy virus to transmit and as I hope you know there are many ways of significantly reducing the risk of transmission. It's not clear from your story how it is that you were "responsible" for your mother's illness and death? Nevertheless, it seems important for you and your girlfriend to talk about your concerns and your feelings, perhaps with the help of a counselor.

I suggest you address your specific question about nonoxinol 9 and its use to the Safe Sex and Prevention Forum. But again, you and your girlfriend need to be able to talk directly and honestly about all of your fears as well as your desire for intimacy with her. There is no reason that you cannot have a loving, intimate, and sexual relationship with each other. Keep seeking the information you desire, but also know that there are no guarantees. Talk with your girlfriend, express ALL of your feelings, try to understand where she is coming from, and figure out - together - how you want to handle the challenges that you face.

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