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Love and Relationships, Positive Style
What's your advice to HIV-positive people looking for love? What's your experience been?

February 9, 2012

Love and Relationships, Positive Style

Ah, love: It's exhilarating, it's fun, it's challenging, it's terrifying, and when you're living with HIV, there are all sorts of additional issues to consider. We asked a wide range of people in our community -- HIVers and advocates, LGBT folks and heterosexuals, the single and partnered -- for their thoughts and advice on love, relationships, disclosure, dating, and where to look for that special someone.

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Nelson Vergel

Nelson Vergel

Author, Activist and Forum Expert, Houston, Texas, Diagnosed in 1986

I tell my single friends that there is no better way to meet other poz people to date than to volunteer in nonprofit organizations, fundraisers, AIDS rides or walks, or to serve on Boards of Directors of AIDS organizations and other community-related work. In my 18 years of nonprofit work, I have met many a single man with a great heart and a desire to help others, which are two of the things I find the most attractive. Also, these people tend to be more HIV friendly (regardless of their HIV status). If you volunteer for a group or event, chances are that you will be seeing those people frequently. That can give you a great opportunity to get to know them better before you even ask them out on a date.

Read more of "Nelson's Tips for Finding Your Valentine."

Meta Smith

Meta Smith

Prevention Program Facilitator, HAART (HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two), Baton Rouge, La., Diagnosed in 2001

Be really alright with the skin you're in! Because if you are not then it will show and others will know. Be loving to yourself as well as to others; when we do loving things, when we give loving thoughts, do loving acts, all these things come back to us. When I was told that I was HIV positive I thought my world would end that there was no chance in hell of me ever finding love, let alone getting a husband. So with that thought I began to prepare for a life alone which meant that I had to learn how to nurture myself, love myself, pamper myself. In doing those things I found out that I was one hell of a catch!

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Jeannie Wraight

Jeannie Wraight

Activist and Founder, HIVHaven.com, Bronx, N.Y., Diagnosed in 1995

Leave the door open. Don't rule out either negative or positive people. There are so many HIV-negative people who are completely OK with being in a relationship with someone living with HIV. They either already know and understand the risks or are willing to learn about them. There are also lots of benefits to being with someone who is positive. The fear of rejection because of HIV doesn't exist (although some do choose to only be with negative people) and they understand much of what you go through on a daily basis living with a life-threatening illness. Don't rule anyone out based on their HIV status -- negative or positive!

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Jeannie Wraight

Jimmy Mack

Southampton, N.Y., Diagnosed in 1987

This Valentine's Day marks exactly 25 years since I tested HIV positive, and my new boyfriend Brian and I plan to celebrate that momentous occasion by announcing our engagement that day. We met on a gay dating website and what impressed me most about Brian was that he put his HIV-positive status right up front on his profile, as did I. Our first date was 11/11/11 (this picture is from that date) and we have been inseparable ever since. Brian and I both feel that honesty regarding one's HIV status is the best dating policy as one is only as sick as his secrets, and why start out with a secret?

Bernard Jackson

Bernard Jackson

Youth HIV Prevention Specialist, The Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, Falls Church, Va., Diagnosed in 1999

Relationships to me have always been so difficult, but I've found out that dating is so nice. It's a wonderful thing to have people that just like you for you, and not like you for what goes on behind closed doors.

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Frankie Ninja and Anthony Castro

Frankie Ninja With Partner Anthony Castro

San Francisco, Calif., Diagnosed in 2007 (Frankie) and 2000 (Anthony)

Frankie: People ask me about finding love and how I deal with it as far as being HIV positive. I didn't really know what love was until after I became HIV positive. I wasn't looking for a relationship. I was just trying to find myself. On a Web site, I met Anthony. If you've heard the saying, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ..." -- I came to the conclusion that if it does walk and quack like a duck, then it must be love. So that's pretty much how we got together and it was really against all odds. Neither of us was really looking for love. And I certainly don't believe in online dating. But life has a way of twisting things on you.

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Dr. Gail Barouh

Dr. Gail Barouh

President/CEO, Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC), Long Island, N.Y.

I think people who are living with HIV are just as entitled to fall in love and have Valentine's Day and wonderful lives. I think it's important that they be honest and upfront with the people they have relationships with and that they take the proper precautions. If you take the proper precautions, I think you're going to have a full love life and sex life. If you don't, then I don't think that's a good way to enter into a relationship.

Dr. Gail Barouh

Heriberto Sanchez Soto

Executive Director, Hispanic AIDS Forum (HAF), Manhattan, N.Y.

I see far too many people with HIV give up to the mentality that HIV is going to destroy them tomorrow and so they think they only have a little bit of time to make up for it. They give up their jobs. They give up hope. They give up on love. They internalize too much. I want HIV-positive people to be positive about their lives. I want them to believe that HIV is manageable and that they can have a lasting, productive life. I want them to rediscover themselves, the dreamers, the people with aspirations and life goals and go back to pursuing them.

Andrew

Andrew

San Francisco, Calif., Diagnosed in April 2008

I have been with my partner since 2005 and I seroconverted in April of 2008, when I was 21, and we are still going strong. I've definitely found love since being positive.

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Fortunata Kasege

Fortunata Kasege

Houston, Texas, Diagnosed in 1997

I am so blessed to have very good friends. I'm blessed to have people who care about me and about my well-being. I'm so blessed with having so many admirers in my life, but I haven't found "the one" yet.

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Joe Ohmer

Joe Ohmer

Peer Counselor, New York City, N.Y., Diagnosed in 2002

For the first time in my life, I have found somebody that I can actually see a future into my 90s with.

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Gary

Gary

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Diagnosed in 1992

Initially I was still getting over the loss of my partner. But I have dated since then. It was an evolution.

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Sarah

Sarah

Pennsylvania, Diagnosed in 1994, at Age 10

Dating, in high school, was pretty horrible. Then I did date some people in college. The last person I dated, before my husband, basically ran away from me when I told him I was HIV positive.

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Cameron

Cameron

Health Educator, Bay Area, Calif.

In reference to the best relationship I've ever been in, which happened to be mixed status, the only challenge we ever faced came from the external community, even my best friends and my greatest family members.

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Penni Cleverley

Penni Cleverley

Vermont CARES, St. Johnsbury, Vt., Diagnosed in 1985

I have [found love since I tested positive]. I don't have anyone in particular right now. But I have been in and out of a few relationships since my husband passed in 1993.

Read More >>
Delfred Hastings

Delfred Hastings

Executive Director, Personal Connections Health Care Services, Austin, Texas

I want to just give you a quick upview on finding love. Love is so important to all of us in this world. We all need it to live.

And no matter who you are or where you are, what your economical status is, love is available to all of us, free of charge. And just as we receive it, we should learn to give it to other people.




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