September 6, 2012
BABES Network-YWCA is a Seattle-based support group that uses peer counseling, group discussions, educational lectures, and retreats to help HIV-positive women navigate intimate relationships. Trusting a sexual partner and coping with rejection are often the focus of dialogue among group attendees.
"I encourage women to date when they're ready. I ask them questions to see if they're ready: When do you want to disclose your status? Are you ready for the response?'" said Brenda Higgins, a BABES peer advocate.
BABES Program Manager Nicole Price was once one of the women seeking support for dealing with love and life post-diagnosis. She said that while everyone has a different approach for disclosing their status, she prefers not to rush the talk. "Give them a chance to get to know you at least," she said. "Let them know who you are. Not just see you as HIV."
"Everybody does it slightly differently," said Dr. Joanne Stekler, a deputy director at the HIV/STD program of Public Health Seattle & King County. "There are some people who walk up to someone in the bar and say, Hi, my name is this and I'm HIV-positive,' or people tell right before they're going to be intimate. Maybe before they decide to do it or when the clothes are coming off. There's not a right or wrong way to tell, but you need to talk about it."
[PNU editor's note: To learn more about BABES Network-YWCA, visit www.babesnetwork.org.]