Months ago, Facebook suggested I might know a previous girlfriend of the ex who gave me HIV.
Years ago, I was the other woman without even knowing it. I learned he left her for me; I felt awkward meeting his family at Thanksgiving because they were heartbroken over the break up from her and her young daughter, who once lived with them. It took awhile for his family to warm up to me. I did not know I had become part of a pattern.
He and I parted ways in May 2006, and I never saw him again.
But, Facebook told me we had a friend in common and maybe we were long-lost friends. I checked her page, and she had two new children, so I wanted to assume she had an HIV test, being pregnant twice since him. However, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's lack of follow up with me, I assume they do not follow up with straight married women since we're not at risk to spread it.
I know our ex-boyfriend does NOT have a Facebook account; you can't even Google him and have anything come up. So, if she also tested positive, she would have NO way to contact him to track her disease the way I did.
I toyed with the idea of emailing her for weeks.
Does she have the right to know; is it my right, my duty, to ask or tell her she might have been given HIV? Having had many conversations recently with my six year old about how important it is to "tell the truth," this was in my mind every time I saw her face on my phone or computer. She has the right to know. No one else will ever tell her. It's up to me. If I can blog for strangers, I can definitely email a woman whose bad boyfriend I stole some fifteen years ago.
So, I finally sent her a message. I know us NOT being Facebook friends, she might see this message tomorrow; it might take weeks; she might never see it at all. She might see my face in her inbox and delete my email it without even opening it. She could write back that I stole the love of her life and what a slutty bitch I was. She might say I got what I deserved, and what did I expect?
She wrote back. My message basically said: I'm not sure whether you or your brother kept in touch with him, but he gave another ex and me HIV. If you have not been tested, you should. I just thought you should know because I know he will never tell you.
She apologized for what he had put me through and repeatedly asked whether I was OK, and also my son and his other ex. We IMed each other all night about him, his issues and his amazing family, as well as about how she never looked back once he was with me. We agreed he was not worth the trouble or the time we all wasted on him.
I am so relieved. She has been tested, and she is negative. At least I know she is safe. I knew he would never contact her and give her an FYI, which bothered me. They were together for years. It only takes a minute to drop someone an email to let them know to get tested. I felt obligated to do it for all my exes and now his too.
People have a right to know they are in danger of this symptomless disease you don't know about until it's too late. It is worth an email, no matter how awkward or nervous or afraid you are of the reaction you will receive. It's worth it in the end to have peace of mind that someone else is OK. I never dated her, we were never "friends," but as a fellow woman who knew she might have been exposed, I had to. What would you do?