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Women with HIV

Feb 14, 2003

I am a 52 year old heterosexual female who has been HIV+ since 2/90 and was diagnosed 9/94. I am not now in a relationship, but, I would like to be. Unfortunately, I feel like damaged goods and I am certain that if I met someone and told them, they would be totally turned off. I would like to now how other women cope with this. Most groups and questions are primarily for/from homosexual males and the homosexual community seems to have less problem with this. Please don't suggest a group, because I tried that and it was all male except for me and another women who was a drug user. Sometimes I feel like the only woman in the world who became infected by simple heterosexual sex. Thanks for your help.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

While I understand your concerns and can not and will not dismiss them since they are valid, I fear that your self image as damaged goods is a major contributing factor here that has to be inhibiting your ability to meet men, date and possibly develop a long term relationship. After all there are women who have Herpes, Chronic Hepatitis, and other serious health conditions that are out there dating, and who meet men and begin serious romantic relationships that are rich and satisfying.

What I coach clients about this, no matter their gender or sexual orientation is that if you feel like noone wants you then this will become a self fulfilling prophesy. I also suggest that if you do meet someone who you are intersted in, you take it very slowly. Have a few dates where you just get to know one another before allowing it to become sexual. I think that it is essential that you inform anyone you are interested in about your health status prior to the two of you sleeping together, but not so early in getting to know him that he will have the chance to have become intersted in who you are as a complete person before learning about your condition.

This is for your emotional protection as much as anything else, since how invested in the relationship you are will almost certainly grow after you sleep with him, and if you are rejected it will be exponentially more painful if the two of you have been sexually active.

I am not saying that there is no difference for you in how dating will be as an HIV positive woman. But you do need to work through your negative feelings about yourself in order to increase how attractive men will find you. If you feel good about yourself and confident about what you bring to a relationship this will be sexy and alluring to any potential partners.

If you are unable to work through these feelings then I urge you to seek counseling to help you work on this.

Best of luck,

Michael Shernoff, MSW

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