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should i leave.??
Jun 30, 1999

my question is as follows..my wife and i have been married for 12 years, 2 children and we all love each other, however last year i met a man and we had a relationship for most of that year, (marital problems led to that) i found out through others he was afflicted with the virus but denied it when i asked..before we had intercorse and after we broke up. i don't want my wife to get infected even though we use safe sex practices..but i don't want to deny her a "normal" relationship with a man/husband. having my family watch me die slowly over the years is not an option i want to take place..if i leave now they will go on with their lives and still have a good chance at a normal life, long question but need an answer or at least suggestions..i am at a loss..thanks for listening

Response from Dr. Remien

Your question has many parts to it and I can see that you are conflicted about several things. First, while you may not have implied this, I want to make it clear (to other readers) that marital problems do not lead to somebody being gay (or bisexual) or their wanting a relationship with someone of their own gender. I suspect that you have wanted a relationship with a man for a long time and finally allowed that to happen.

If you are not HIV infected then you cannot pass on the virus to your wife or to anyone else. You must realize, however, that you can be infected with the virus without testing HIV+ for awhile (antibodies almost always appear within the first six months of infection). Therefore it would be important to have "safer sex" with your sex partner(s) if you know that you have been in a risky situation until you know that you are not infected. And as you learned, people are not always honest about disclosure of their HIV status, for a variety of reasons. That is why it is important to always protect yourself (as well as others), particularly in "new" relationships.

There is some validity to your notion that you don't want to deny your wife a "normal" relationship. I don't think either of you should be denied a satisfying and loving relationship with the person of your choosing. I don't know to what degree you and your wife have discussed the situation, but it may be time to confront it, if you haven't already. You do not need to become HIV+ as a way of leaving this relationship nor does HIV have to be the reason for pursuing your desire for a relationship with a man. While it may be difficult to confront this situation with your family many other men have successfully dealt with this and are able to maintain loving relationships with former wives and children. Again, please don't be reckless and create a health "crisis" as a way of facilitating an important change in your life.

When you say that you don't want your family to "watch me die slowly over the years," you may be referring to getting sick with AIDS, but perhaps you are also talking about them watching you die an emotional death because you are not pursuing what you truly want. Either way, neither is a desirable outcome. I suggest you talk with a therapist about these and related issues and I encourage you to pursue an outcome that is physically and psychologically healthy for you and your family.

Take care and be safe.


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