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To tell or not to tell?
Aug 17, 2002

Dear Michael Shernoff,

This may be a strange question, but here I go. I am unfortunate enough to have received 2 "false positive" elisa tests, which I suspect, are due to a flu vaccine that I took around the time of testing. I was later confirmed to be negative by 3 different doctors, including 1 Infectious Disease specialist and a bunch of tests, including pcr-dna, pcr-rna, cd4 count and a negative screening elisa test. However, my life and I have changed dramatically ever since the ordeal. I feel insecure and somehow "tainted" all the time. I lost all my interest in meeting/dating people for fear that I have to confront them with my "false positive" past. I feel that even a "false positive" hiv test will be enough for scaring any potential partner away from me. But at the same time, I do not want to date positive people because I am negative after all. I always feel that I need to be honest with people especially with something as serious as hiv, but at the same time I feel that it is not my fault after all but the "tests fault". So, do you think that I have a "moral obligation" to tell any potential romantic/sexual partner about my once false positive tests? Or should I simply tell them that I am negative? Am I being doomed forever? Any insight on this matter will be greatly greatly appreciated. By the way, I am a gay man.

Deeply troubled

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am sorry but I really don't understand why you are wrestling with this at all. If you are negative you are negative and that is the end of the conversation. I can see that if you do ever get far along enough into a relationship that has become serious, that sharing the false positve story with a person as part of your history the way you talk about any other detail of your past life might be topic of conversation. But there is not moral imperative to have to tell anyone about this. It sounds like you are constructing reasons to keep yourself out of the dating arena.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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