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making a commitment with an HIV+ male

May 26, 2003

I have been in a long distance relationship (3 hrs away from each other)for one and a half years with a man I love who happens to be HIV+. We knew each other 20 years ago and came together again in 2001, shortly after he found out of his status. Although we have been sexual, we haven't had intercourse yet because of my fears. I have children ages 9 and 5 and my biggest fear is becoming infected and not being here for them beyond the next 10 - 15 years. This man adores me and is being very patient with me because he loves and understands me, but we have come to a point where we need to progress with our relationship or just be friends. I love him like I've never loved anyone before and want him in my life. He would move here and marry me in a minute if I would commit to him. I just can't get beyond my fears of the future and not being here for my children. Am I being irrational or obsessive about this? I am a healthy, attractive, intelligent woman and know that society and even my friends would say I'm crazy for even considering a life with this man considering his status, but I am so in love with him that I can look beyond the label of him being HIV+. I just want to keep myself safe. How can I get over my fears of getting infected and dying before my children?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am sory but I am really surprised that you have not mentioned using condoms for intercourse as the best way to protect yourself from getting infected. What is crazy about pursing a relationsip with a person you have fallen in love with that happens to have a potentially life threatening illness? Life is full of risks. But in order to insure that you do not become infected so you will be there for your children you just need to commit to ALWAYS using a condom when having intercourse.

Michael Shernoff, MSW

how raise empathy for HIV+ people?
commitment issues/fears

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