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I am + he's - thus far
Jun 16, 1998

Hi,

I just tested positive for HIV on April 30 and I have a lover of a few months and when I told him he handled it very well. I was surprised. Now My question is when is he going to flip out and leave me over this issue? How long will it take for him to understand that I will not do certain things with him becuase I'm not willing to take the chance with him that was taken with me. Yet in the same respect I feel that I should push him away from me before he gets hurt, he is too young to have to deal with this shit, I was with a positive lover for 3 years and stayed negative and as soon as we broke up I tested positive, God had I only known I would have never gottin involved with this guy, now that i have falln head over heels for him I get this. I have always been a very upbeat person with very few insecurities, yet I can't help but question is he staying with me right now because he thinks I don't need anymore stress in my life. Or even worse the thought that he feels sorry for me, oh God if I knew that was the reason he was staying I'd kill him myself. He know's exactly what I feel (I'm not one to hide my feelings). He know's I only want him in my life should he choose to be there. I have always faced my own fights alone and this one is no differnt. I suppose I want to know what the down side of this whole thing is.......There are times when he has made the statement that life would be easier if he were just + as well. Now this brings up a whole new round of events that I just don't know what to think about. I myself can say that I am mentaly stable over this whole thing it's simply another trivial snag in life that I WILL LIVE with. I became positive by staying with a lover whom I knew was positive and the only regrete that I have from that relationship is the fact that I have now put someone in the same position I was put in not so long ago. Half of me says push him out now before it's too late because I love him and the other half says let him decied and for the same reason. He on the other hand seems to think I have had a death warrant issued in my name even though he don't say it. I fear he will leave me and he fears I'll leave him. So Doc what ya think?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I think that the two of you have a lot of talking to do. I am very concerned about your negative attitude. Yes having an HIV positive lover is no joke and raises many serious and very difficult issues. But there is nothing here that can not be dealt with. Insuring that the negative partner stays uninfected must be a very high priority for both of you. Dr. Robert Remien's research with mixed HIV status couples has found that most often it is the uninfected partner who wishes to stretch the envelope in terms of doing risky behaviors. Thus you must be vigilant and never allow him to do something that could result in his becoming exposed to your HIV.

This "perhaps I should push him away now" is very self destructive and self limiting. You must know what you did with your previous partner in order to have become infected. Just avoid doing that with your current partner. You became positive not by staying with an infected lover, but by engaging in risky sexual behaviors with him. The down side is that you can never come inside him, and thus sex is not as spontaneous. The down side is that you and he can never totally relax in absolute sexual abandon since HIV is inside of you. You need to share with him that you fear that he will eventually flip out and leave you or conversely that out of a concern for not adding to your stress that he is staying with you out of his own co-dependence. Have you ever really considered that there is the possibility that neither will happen? Perhaps he and you will create a love that will continue to blossom and grow despite the sword of Damacles that is HIV that you both live with. I am not trying to tell you that this is a bed of roses. My partner is negative and this is a fear we wrestle with and live with on a continuous basis. I am concerned that you may be using HIV as a way to run away from the discomfort that comes up whenever we get very close and intimate to another person. That is the real challenge of forging a permanent partnership. You have some hard work ahead of you. But by honestly talking with one another and carefully listening to what the other is saying and how the other is feeling you can build a tremendously solid foundation to build your shared lives upon.

Best of luck. Let me know what happens.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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