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Mar 23, 2001

I have been dating a guy for about five weeks now. I performed oral sex on him and he did not ejaculate in my mouth. A couple weeks later he told me that he is HIV positive. I told him that I was angry he did not tell me and put me at risk. However, I continued to date him cause I really like him. He told me that he thought what we did was very low risk. I live in San Francisco and every source(Aids Health Project, San Francisco Aids Foundation) I contacted confirmed the belief that unprotected oral sex without ejaculation is very low risk. However, I have an anxiety disorder so I have not been very consoled by this counseling. Unfortunately, my relationship with this guys is not going well so that I plan to end it. While this guy is awesome in so many ways, I think we are both having trouble putting his HIV status aside. I am having trouble forgiving this guy for putting me at risk even if it was low. I do recognize the fact that I need to take responsibility for myself and I should have asked his HIV status before going down on him without a condom. However, I do want to forgive this man and move on but I can't get over the feeling that this man seemed to have no regard for my life when he did not tell me. As you can tell I am very conflicted and I am having trouble finding the right way to end our relationship in the best way possible. I know I did not ask a specific question but I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give me as I care a great deal for this person. By the way, thank you for providing this service.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

While I certainly understand your feelings that your boy friend was not considering your feelings by allowing you to go down on him without having first told you about his HIV status, to hear you say that this man "has no regard for your life" when he did not tell you seems like a very extreme reaction on your part. After all he did not have unprotected anal sex with you. He certainly did not stop to think about how you might feel about having any kind of penetrative sex not knowing that he was positive.

I think the things to ponder are the following. Perhaps this is only indicative of his not communiating that he is very interested in other of your feelings. From what you wrote I do not know if this may be the case. But if how he treated his HIV disclosure is indicative of not being tuned in to your feelings, needs and the impact of his behavior on you, then this may be a good reason to stop seeing him. If you want to stop seeing this man, you need to really examine your reasons for this. Is this a pattern on your part where if a person makes a mistake or is inconsiderate one time then you want out? If this is the case than you need to really look at your reactions and inflexibility. If this is not the case, you of course have the right to end any relationship for any reason you want even if the guy is great and has alot to offer. Michael Shernoff, MSW

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