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To Tell or Not to Tell
Dec 24, 2007

I am a bi-sexual male and positive. I have a female partner (she is negative). We have been together over 5 years now and about 2 years ago I was diagnosed positive. I have chosen not to reveal my status to my family or friends. Other than my doctors and the sexual partners I had, I am not ready to tell anyone my status. I am very healthy and have a young daughter from a previous relationship. My partner has expressed her disire to be able to tell others about my status. I have asked her not to and while we share our lives with each other, I feel it is no her place to tell others. While I have asked her to please respect my wishes, she has told two people. Am I wrong to ask her not to tell others about my positive status?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

You present an interesting question and a bit of a conundrum. In general I agree that when, how and to whom we disclose our HIV-positive status is an individual and personal decision. I do not agree with your partner unilaterally deciding to reveal your status to others. That said I'm also somewhat concerned as to what may be the underlying reasons for your choosing to keep your HIV-positive status a secret. Perhaps it's a desire to shield your daughter from the information, or worries about job discrimination or alienation from friends and family due to HIV/AIDS stigma. These are potentially valid concerns. However, it might also be that you are attempting to conceal your sexual orientation (bisexuality). You've been with your partner for over five years. Perhaps she is feeling the need for a larger support network. As in any relationship each individual must try to understand his partner's needs and be willing to make reasonable compromises. Communication is key. You need to be honest with yourself and your partner as to why you wish to conceal your HIV status. You must also listen carefully to your partner's reasons for wanting others to know. In general I feel secrets are not healthy. I encourage disclosing one's HIV status as soon as he or she is comfortable doing so. You've been positive now for two years. Perhaps it's time to expand the circle of support to at least include trusted friends and family.

Read through the section in the archives of this forum pertaining to "disclosure" Hopefully both you and your partner will find the information there helpful.

Good luck to you both.

Dr. Bob



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