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suggestion on how to
Aug 27, 1999

After broswing through your other Q & A's my question will seem a little redundent, but I feel I must ask any way. I have been divorced about 7 mths. now and am headrosexual HIV+, which my ex-wife unknowingly gave to me. we discovered this, that we were both pos. days before marriage. We went a head and married, things went fine for about two years and then she changed jobs and shortly after things began to go down hill up and down mood swings, controling, quick to anger. thinking it was me an the phy. stress of new job tryed some counseling, didn't seem to help still think it was my fault I tryed some counseling alone. the therapist quickly pointed out that this was not my problem alone but she had to be willing to work it out together, when I told her about this and ask her to do this with me she told me she didn't have time. A few mths. after this she told me that she didn't love me any more and told me to take my two teenage sons and get out and that I had about 30 days to do so. Knowing that you can make love and that there was no going back I obliged her and have started a new life for myself and my boys. Yes I'm hurt,pissed, and confused but not trying to go down the road of life backwards looking at were I've been, but moving forward and learning as I go. I am 44 yr. old and am total asemtamatic, became undectable about 3 weeks after starting drugs and have remained so. My biggest problem is as you put it in one of your answers is "THE TALK" when you have started seeing someone again, as I have started to see someone that I have known for some time (many years). I have all ready tryed to talk with this lady and feel that it was for the most part a 60-70% failure, she hasn't ran away screaming yet but, well I'm sure you know what I mean. I have talk with others that are supposted to be clincal pros. but in this arena I feel it's a little like the blind leading the blind. HELP !!! WOULD LOVE TO HERE FROM YOU AND OTHERS WITH REAL LIFE EXPERIENCES AND SUGGESTIONS ON THIS TOPIC. I'm not ready to run off and get married, but would like to have a relationship with someone. one can only take so much of being alone with teenagers and not having a break. With my first attempt I feel like I might just as well live on the moon !!

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am confused by parts of your story. You said that the woman you disclosed to did not go running away, yet it was a 60-70% failure. What does this mean exactly? Does it mean that she chooses not to make love to you and just wants to remain friends? When did you tell her about your being HIV+? I hope that you told her before you and she ever had sex. Telling a person with whom you are interested in having a romantic relationship that you are HIV+ is never easy, and there is never a good time to have this talk. But it really needs to be had before there has been any kind of sexual involvement, in order for the other person not to feel distrustful of you.

Dating someone as an HIV+ person, and needing to tell them your health status is one situation where you have to follow what AA suggests by "take the action and let go of the resutls." You can not control how someone is going to respond to your being HIV+. For your own emotional protection it is always better to have this talk early on rather than after things have progressed. The longer you wait to have "the talk" the more you increase the possibility that your new love interest will feel uncared about by you for your not having told her earlier.

At the same time you don't want to meet someone, go on a first date and disclose something as intimate and difficult as being HIV+ right away. There is a delicate and difficult dance that has to be negotiated.

Ultimately there are not any other specific suggestions I can offer you in this difficult and very emotionally fraught area, other than try to remain sensitive both to your own needs to have a new intimate relationship in your life, and how shocking and difficult it is for many people, both gay and heterosexual to contemplate beginning a love affair with someone who is infected with HIV. If you want further help from me, you will have to write again with more specific details of how you handled this situation.

Good luck.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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