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What are the ethics of disclosing a partner's status when in an open relationship?

Jul 26, 2008

Dear Dr Frascino, a boy I have been dating (non-exclusively) for several months just told me that he's positive. Although I'm very annoyed and upset that he didn't tell me for so long, I'm at least considering the possibility of still seeing him as I do really like him. However, my situation is that I only came out as gay a few years ago - in my late 20s - and thereafter was in relationships for several years. This meant I never had a chance to be single and explore. My question to you is about the ethics of disclosure. If I continue to see this guy (and he may become my boyfriend but in an open relationship) would I need to inform other guys that I hook-up with that I am seeing someone who is positive? It goes without saying that we would be using protection at all times (for anal sex if we still practised that; I'm still not sure how I feel about oral sex). My therapist told me that morally/ethically I would probably have to do this. However, I feel that, provided I am being safe, it is not practical or necessary to do this (other partners would simply not be interested in me), and there are also issues concerned with disclosing confidential information about someone else. Any advice would be gratefully received.

Response from Dr. Frascino


I definitely agree with you and not your therapist on this issue. You certainly have a moral and ethical duty to disclose your own HIV status to potential sexual partners, but certainly not the HIV status of other people you are involved with! In fact, it would be a breech of confidentiality and friendship to disclose someone else's HIV status! This would serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

You can read more about HIV-disclosure issues in the archives of this forum. You might also suggest to your therapist that he have a look as well.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Dr. Bob

please doctor answer and I promise not to write more

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