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Willing to have unsafe sex with an hiv+ partner
Jul 5, 2003

I met someone really wonderful about 4 months ago and on the first date, I disclosed my hiv+ status. Due to my feelings of low self -esteem and anger I had surrounding my hiv, I felt unworthy of giving and receiving love. To make a long story short, his philosophy is that hiv is such a small part of who i am and I should be greatful and happy that someone is willing to be with me inspite of it. By the way he is hiv negative.During this 4 months he has fallen in love with me and wants to be there for me in every way. What disturbs me is that he said he is willing to have unsafe sex with me to prove his love for me and to prove that I'm lovable. He says I'm everything he wants in a person and he doesn't want to be single anymore and wants to share life with me no matter what. I talked about this situation with my doctor and he says since my t-cell count is high and my viral load undetectable, the chances of him getting infected are there but very low. I left my doctor feeling confused. The dilemma for me is I love him but I'm not in passionate love with him.We discussed this in depth and at this point I don't see myself being with him for the rest of my life. I couldn't live with myself if I knew some years later he turned up hiv positive. For this reason I refrained from having sex with him by coming up with excuses to avoid it. We actually tried having sex without protection but I abruptly interrupted it with an excuse like going to the bathroom. He doesn't want to put a condom on and I feel very uncomfortable because he's making an informed, conscious decision to do this. What do you think I should do? Any input from you would help tremedously. Thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Thank you for your question. Although many folks may find it shocking, your situation is not all that uncommon with magnetic couples, i.e. one poz and one neggie. Its a taboo that often never even gets discussed. The truth is that either the HIV+ or HIV- partner might dream that it would all be much easier if you were both positive, even though you know that "dream" must never come true. Talking about taboos like this one can diffuse their power.

Why would someone "in love" even consider taking such a risk? There are several common reasons:

1. To deny differences 2. To "prove" ones love 3. To express anger about the virus

What to do? Communication is the key. Get some couples counseling, if needed. You must learn to accept each other as different, and let your partner know you feel better when he, as the HIV-negative partner, helps share the worry of possible infection. You may need counseling to help with your low self-esteem problems.

The decision to have unsafe sex, like doing the Tango, takes two! Your partner may be willing to take this risk, but you clearly are not as indicated by your statement -- "I couldnt live with myself if I knew some years later he turned up HIV-positive". Talk to your partner. Admit openly that the inability to share fluids feels like a loss. Admit condoms are not always easy and certainly not desirable. But also tell him, even if he is willing to take the risks of having unsafe sex, you are not.

As for the information your doctor gave you, certainly the risk of transmission is less if your viral load is undetectable; however, that "less" is only a relative term. Unprotected sex with an HIV-positive partner is "risky" by any standard.

For folks reading this post who find this situation incredulous, just remember the old adage, "love is blind" or the hit Broadway song, "What I Did for Love," and perhaps this taboo will become more understandable.

Good luck, my friend. As part of a magnetic couple, I do understand what you, and your partner, are going through. I totally agree with your decision that "HIV stops with Me!"

Dr. Bob



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