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Just*in Time: HIV and Dating

By Justin B. Terry-Smith

September 5, 2012

From "Just*in Time," Justin's column in A&U Magazine, America's AIDS Magazine.

Listen, I've been reading and watching your blog, Justin's HIV Journal, and I've been a fan of yours and it is truly inspirational to see your strength through it all. Well, all in all, I've been diagnosed with HIV for a year now and I've been very open with my status to guys I've tried to date and to even some of my friends. Now I'm single and I feel more alone than ever. I've tried to date poz guys, but most of the ones I've met want to only bareback and I don't want any part of it. I'm scared I will be alone for the rest of my life until the day I die. Any words of advice for me?

-- Jason

Hey, I'm sure that some people who are reading your letter and who are HIV positive will say that they've been there before and I am not an exception. When I found out that I was HIV positive, it wasn't easy dating at all. I had one guy who I was dating that told me he never wanted to see me again. Lo and behold, he also became HIV positive about two years later.


We have to be strong and know that there will be someone out there that will love us for who we are and not see disease when looking into our eyes or soul. Now, when a man says that he doesn't want you because of your status, respect his decision and move on. The more time you waste thinking about a person who doesn't want you, the more time is wasted not looking for the one who does want you.

Look inside yourself and know that you are beautiful inside and out and if someone cannot see that then fuck them.

Also, and this has helped me, I suggest that you find an activity that makes you happier than hell and go for it head-on. Keep in mind, too, that there are groups that do have a poz theme to them that are not about dating but about networking and having people that are or will go through the same things you are. Also, if your friends are starting to turn their backs on you just because you have HIV then they are not really your friends and you do not need that drama.

I find that there are a lot of people who want a relationship when they are first diagnosed because they are looking for that acceptance that it is okay and that someone will love them. I'm not saying this is happening with you but keep that in perspective. All I'm saying is that be comfortable with yourself and love yourself -- then that will open your heart to be loved by someone else.

I need your help. My boyfriend and I have been together for two months and I really love him. We met at a club in Philadelphia; he was dancing and when I saw him I was instantly attracted to him. I started to dance with him and we eventually sat down for a drink and to talk. After that, we started seeing each other sporadically, but recently our relationship has gotten more and more serious. The more we are together the closer we are to having sex. I don't know what to do -- should I tell him?

-- Michelle

Okay, honey, this is a situation that we all as HIV-positive people have to deal with. The "should I tell him or her and how" question is a hard one to swallow. But sweetie, hold on, because you might need some water to swallow it down.

Okay, in my opinion, tell him!!! Well, if you two haven't been intimate then that is good because he should at least have the choice of knowing that this is not what he wants. Give him the option to say "no" or to say "yes."

In my opinion, the earlier you tell him the more he will respect you in the end. Also there are laws in some states that have been enacted to criminalize people who are living with HIV. I'm not here to scare you, but you need to know the truth.

When you tell him I suggest that you do so in a very comfortable and familiar setting to you both. Be very careful. When telling a loved one it can be very hard. I can relate -- I didn't even get a chance to tell my own mother; she found out through a family member, one I thought I could trust. It is better if he hears from you than one of your friends or family members. Remember, Michelle, there are worse things than to tell your partner that you have HIV, and that would be to not tell him. Stay strong -- honesty is the best policy.

Please visit Justin's column for A&U, America's AIDS Magazine.

Send Justin an email.

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See Also
More on Sex, Dating & HIV for Gay Men


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Justin's HIV Journal

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith, M.P.H., may be one of the most public African Americans living with HIV: He has his own website, and he's even on YouTube. He is a noted HIV and gay civil rights activist and the creator of "Justin's HIV Journal," a popular blog in which he shares his trials and tribulations of living with HIV. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Justin resides in Laurel, Maryland, with his husband, Dr. Philip Terry-Smith, and their son, Lundyn. Presently, Justin is working toward earning his doctorate in public health. He welcomes your questions.
(Photo credit: Don Harris)

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