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It's Not as Easy as I Thought--Dating and Disclosure

Summer 1998

Recently, I've been plagued by a decision. I am a single African American woman. I have shed a few pounds in the past year (while healthy) and I feel better about myself, but I am plagued about my situation.


Single

I am single. I am fine as wine in the summer time, but I have always felt this way. Men appear to be coming out of the wood work and every cubby hole. Men who are interested in every thing from sex to marriage.

There is one in particular that strikes my fancy. He's young, tall and good looking. He also knows everybody I know. (Did I mention nobody knows I'm HIV positive, that is in my immediate circle of friends and associates?).

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He's smooth, somewhat elegant, sensitive, good with children and he's ready to have sex with me, NOW. Did I also neglect to explain I've been abstinent for several years due to religious reasons, not HIV? My big dilemma is I feel a need to DISCLOSE my status to the person who becomes even remotely interested.


If I Tell

If I tell him, will he feel a need to discuss this with those who are closest to him? Please remember he knows most of the people I know. Will his family become upset with me? Yes, his family and I are also close friends. Will it scare him off, if I tell my status?

When is the best time to tell him? It's definitely not while he's trying to kiss me on my neck. Is it before the first kiss? This next one is really controversial. Is it before the government passes a bill stating it's illegal for HIV+ people to have unprotected sex with out disclosure of HIV status? Yes it's true. There is currently a Bill in the California legislature to outlaw unprotected sex with HIV+ individuals, who don't disclose their status. Did I sneak that one in on you? Just for your information it's Bill AB 2287.


Wrong

I need to first state, I truly believe it is a great tragedy for anyone to knowingly infect another person, and my personal belief is it is WRONG! I am also wondering where does the responsibility lie for the suspected HIV-infected individuals. We are all accountable for our actions but, AB 2287 makes the person with HIV responsible for the other person.

I have always assumed everyone I come in contact with already has everything. I mean AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Hepatitis (A through E), TB, the Flu, and the common cold. If the disease exists, I believe it's possible you might have it. All of this is just my personal opinion. I use universal precaution with everyone.


Disclosure

This issue has not only come up with me dating a perceived negative man, but it has come up in our support group. Members have called each other in a panic about disclosure.

I even have an acquaintance who dated a man for six months and was engaged to marry him. She disclosed a week or two prior to the set date and guess what happened? He disappeared. They lived together. He went to work one morning and never returned.

They had protected sex the whole time. I believe she should have disclosed before she did but, because of the fear and stigma, she was afraid.

Her justification was, she protected him the entire time they were together.

My question is did he ever ask if she was positive? Especially when he lived with her and watched her take all those medications. At what point was he responsible for asking a simple question? Why do you take so many pills?


It's Time

Women it is time to ponder a few questions. Just how infectious are women to men? How many lesbians, who have had sex with only women and no other risk factors, have become infected? Women, it is time for us to request more research be done on us. Through research we have found out we are at less risk for transmitting HIV to our unborn children. The same kind of research may result in eliminating the fear of dating HIV positive women.


Back to the Women Alive Summer 1998 Contents Page.


  
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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.
 
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