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Author Topic: Keeping HIV a secret from my family  (Read 21473 times)

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Offline LM

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #50 on: June 24, 2011, 06:14:35 PM »
To make it clear:

First, I don't want to tell my family. I'm not intimate with them and have never shared details of my life.

Second, I don't need to tell them. I'm not putting them at risk, nor do I need them for something.

Finally, I can't tell them. And here I'm talking especially about my mom. I have been taking care of her since I was like 10 and it's no easy burden for a child to take care of an adult with mental problems. No child deserves to see his mom trying to jump out of an 8th floor window while holding her back. And I don't even count that as one of her 3 suicide attempts. In all the problems I've had in life, I could never count on her because she couldn't handle her problems by herself. Yet, I still love her and want her to be as well as possible.

Luckily, I have friends, good ones, and I can count on them, and I can disclose to them if I want to.

Now, with all I've been through, someone judging me for not telling my family really puts me on the edge. I wish I had a different family, that I could count on when I was in trouble. I don't. And I'm fine with that. But it's just sick that someone judges me because I'm trying to avoid problems for me and for them by not disclosing. And while I understand that someone who has a different kind of family environment may not grasp what this means, I cannot accept someone telling me I'm the bad guy. Not with all I've been through.

Offline Joe K

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #51 on: June 24, 2011, 06:33:47 PM »
To make it clear:

First, I don't want to tell my family. I'm not intimate with them and have never shared details of my life.

Second, I don't need to tell them. I'm not putting them at risk, nor do I need them for something.

Finally, I can't tell them. And here I'm talking especially about my mom. I have been taking care of her since I was like 10 and it's no easy burden for a child to take care of an adult with mental problems. No child deserves to see his mom trying to jump out of an 8th floor window while holding her back. And I don't even count that as one of her 3 suicide attempts. In all the problems I've had in life, I could never count on her because she couldn't handle her problems by herself. Yet, I still love her and want her to be as well as possible.

Luckily, I have friends, good ones, and I can count on them, and I can disclose to them if I want to.

Now, with all I've been through, someone judging me for not telling my family really puts me on the edge. I wish I had a different family, that I could count on when I was in trouble. I don't. And I'm fine with that. But it's just sick that someone judges me because I'm trying to avoid problems for me and for them by not disclosing. And while I understand that someone who has a different kind of family environment may not grasp what this means, I cannot accept someone telling me I'm the bad guy. Not with all I've been through.

I understand why you choose not to tell your family, but what I think means nothing, because they are your family.  It seems this subject is very hard for you and just maybe you are reading a little more into some of the responses, because I don't believe anyone has disparaged you because of your choice. As you can see, topics like these are incredibly complex and sometimes what we want to say, does not come across as clear as we would like. I would hope you could accept the comments here as personal opinions and experiences and just like your situation, there are no right or wrong answers. Only what works for you.

Offline GSOgymrat

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #52 on: June 24, 2011, 07:08:17 PM »
There are other reasons for not telling family other than fear of rejection or shame. In my case I initially didn't want to tell my mother because I didn't want the stress of dealing with her and her concerns. I'm a very introverted person, not shy, but I get my strength and energy from within myself and not from other people. Dealing with other people drains my batteries and the best thing I can do when I'm stressed is not interact with anyone. I know it sounds odd but when people I care about try to offer emotional support it often doesn't feel like support to me, it feels like yet another person's emotional state that I have to process and then manufacture an appropriate reaction. When my partner and I were diagnosed I had to deal with my own infection, our mortality (neither one of us was supposed to live 5 years) and deal with his reaction to being HIV+. He was not well equipped to deal with HIV (denial and avoidance punctuated by emotional breakdowns) and I was emotionally supporting him and myself. The last thing I wanted was my mother calling me daily asking about my health, worrying about every sneeze and telling me to dump "that Cuban" that infected me and move back to North Carolina.

To fully appreciate the situation you have to know a little about my mother. Loved my mom but she had an anxiety disorder and poor boundaries when it came to... well, everyone. Calling her a "worrier" doesn't begin to describe it, although I recall her voice saying "I'm not a worrier, I'm a MOTHER!". It was not unusual at all to get a call first thing in the morning with "Ford! Has your brother been going to the dentist?! He says he is but I think he is telling me a story. I didn't sleep at all last night worrying about it. Does he drinking a lot of cola? You put a penny in a glass of cola and see what happens! I'm sending him a check today and you tell him that he has to schedule an appointment! Call him right now, he is already up." She would literally not sleep over this and I could expect a call later in the day to confirm I sufficiently hectored my brother and that his teeth were not rotting out of his head.

Years passed, my partner and I didn't die, PI's came out, life went back to normal and HIV wasn't something I thought about much. My mother was focused on other family dramas that fortunately had nothing to do with me. Not telling her about HIV wasn't a big deal, no big secret, I just didn't bring it up-- there was always something else to talk about. My attitude was if she finds out she will have her nervous breakdown, we will pick up the pieces and she will just have to put on her big girl panties and deal-- just like she did when I told her I was gay. She never found out about the HIV, she never had to worry about it and I am glad it worked out that way. I fortunately didn't have to deal with incessant phone calls about some natural herb cure, did I take my medications today, when is my next doctor's appointment and, for the love of god, have I been going to the dentist? My mom and I were very close and we definitely didn't need HIV to bond over.

My father found out about my HIV status, like lots of people, by Googling our name. He called me up for our weekly chat and said he read my HIV story on the internet. I said "oh, yeah, sorry about that, but I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to blab to mom." He said it was a shock, asked me who else knew (uh, everyone with internet access apparently), said that HIV isn't what it used to be and agreed I did the right thing by not telling my mother. Then we started talking about his new laptop. My father is equally introverted, totally rational and we get along famously-- naming me Ford Jr. was spot on.

I have a wonderful supportive family and love them all. They know me, they know how I deal with things and they know if I need them I won't hesitate to call. HIV isn't a secret, I'm not ashamed of it and I honestly don't care who knows... but I am not going to bring it up in casual conversation because it is really nobody's business. Besides, when I want to discuss it I have you guys!
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 07:10:31 PM by GSOgymrat »

Offline Joe K

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #53 on: June 24, 2011, 07:24:42 PM »
Ford, your post is incredible. Thank you for sharing. My mother and yours would have gotten along famously, as they commiserated about their lives and families. If only I had a father like yours.

Offline Ac75088

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #54 on: June 25, 2011, 02:29:06 AM »
Can't we all just get along
01-12-08 Tested poz cd4 700 vl 8,000
04-25-11 Lowest cd4 count of 415 vl high at 250,000
05-03-11 Started Atripla
05-16-11 Hospitalized and treated for 2 weeks (neurosyphilis)
07-05-11 CD4 count 585 VL 550
10-04-11 CD4 count 700 VL 75
02-03-12 CD4 count 799 VL UD
08-08-12 CD4 count 838 VL UD

Offline Betelgeuse

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #55 on: June 25, 2011, 02:53:31 AM »
Can't we all just get along

That's rich - YOU'RE THE ONE THAT STARTED THIS TOPIC.
04/19/11 - Diagnosed positive
04/29/11 - CD4 188 @ 12.5% / VL 18k
05/03/11 - CD4 171 @ unk% / VL 7k
06/04/11 - Start Truvada/Isentress
07/11/11 - CD4 not tested / VL UD
09/07/11 - CD4 252 @ unk% / VL UD

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #56 on: June 25, 2011, 05:47:08 AM »
To make it clear:

First, I don't want to tell my family. I'm not intimate with them and have never shared details of my life.

Second, I don't need to tell them. I'm not putting them at risk, nor do I need them for something.

Finally, I can't tell them. And here I'm talking especially about my mom. I have been taking care of her since I was like 10 and it's no easy burden for a child to take care of an adult with mental problems. No child deserves to see his mom trying to jump out of an 8th floor window while holding her back. And I don't even count that as one of her 3 suicide attempts. In all the problems I've had in life, I could never count on her because she couldn't handle her problems by herself. Yet, I still love her and want her to be as well as possible.

Luckily, I have friends, good ones, and I can count on them, and I can disclose to them if I want to.

Now, with all I've been through, someone judging me for not telling my family really puts me on the edge. I wish I had a different family, that I could count on when I was in trouble. I don't. And I'm fine with that. But it's just sick that someone judges me because I'm trying to avoid problems for me and for them by not disclosing. And while I understand that someone who has a different kind of family environment may not grasp what this means, I cannot accept someone telling me I'm the bad guy. Not with all I've been through.

Well whatever. This thread really wasn't meant to be about you, it was started by AC. Whether you tell your folks or not is a matter of supreme indifference to me and probably more than one or two others around here.

That's rich - YOU'RE THE ONE THAT STARTED THIS TOPIC.

What's suddenly flown up your arse? AC did start this thread, as far as I can tell he's done nothing to deserve any flak from anyone, least of all you.

Throughout this thread he's been courteous and receptive to courtesy. He's explained himself clearly and demonstrated that he's able to consider advice as it is offered. An admirable quality which serves him well.

From what I can see a couple of the dimmer bulbs in this otherwise sparkling chandelier have decided to hijack proceedings and make it all about them and the genetic cul-de-sacs they call their families. That can hardly be slated home to the OP.

Of course the advice that I and others have given is general in nature. Generally speaking this is the best way to approach disclosure for most HIV positive people.

Naturally our advice may not apply to the wretched few who have been raised by compound dwelling, evengelical, dominionist, Montana dwelling fucktards or drooling inmates of an insane asylum, but we can't help everyone.

MtD

Offline BT65

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #57 on: June 25, 2011, 06:45:34 AM »
That's rich - YOU'RE THE ONE THAT STARTED THIS TOPIC.

I agree with Matty, why are you attacking the op?  I've spent my morning so far reading through this whole thread, and have not seen once where AC has been disrespectful to anyone-you owe him as much. 

I told my family right off, and luckily they were very supportive.  Unfortunately, both my parents died within the last 4 years, but I can honestly say I'm glad they knew my status the years they were alive.  My mom was incredible, and she once was a religious fanatic, of the Seventh-Day Adventist sort.  So I wouldn't have dreamed her to be as open as she was.  After I tested positive, she started meeting all my gay friends, and that combined with the HIV, turned her into one of the most open-minded persons ever.  I'm not saying this miracle of miracles happens with everyone.  But sometimes the things we think are going to isolate us more, actually free us more.  The rest of my family, siblings and even Catholic conservative aunt, have all be supportive, and encouraging.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline anniebc

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #58 on: June 25, 2011, 06:47:35 AM »
LM...as someone has already pointed out this thread is not about you, you have Hi-jacked Ac's thread, and that is something that is doesn't go down well here.

Betelgeuse..Ac did start this thread and has taken on board all the advise given to him, and he has responded without malice, obviously LM taking over and and causing problems has upset him and rightly so,so shouting "YOU'RE THE ONE THAT STARTED THIS TOPIC" at him is totally uncalled for, don't you think?

Ac...the ones who actually care about your problem have given you some good advise and something to think about, ultimately it will be your choice on how you handle your disclosure...if you do decide to tell your family it would be better sooner rather than later.

Aroha
Jan
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Never knock on deaths door..ring the bell and run..he really hates that.

Offline wolfter

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #59 on: June 25, 2011, 07:35:06 AM »
I've witnessed this debate for 25 years now and there still doesn't seem to me a perfect answer.  We all have individual family dynamics that forces us to draw upon everything to personalize this decision.  I've always contended there isn't a right or wrong answer, merely individual decisions. 

I didn't do it on my terms and have no regrets because that's where I was at in that time and place.  Since everyone of us is dealing with this same virus and can't come to a consensus, it's really easy to imagine that there will be a wide variety of reactions from those we love and those who love us.

Complacency is the enemy.  ;)  Challenge yourself daily for maximum  return on investment.

Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #60 on: June 25, 2011, 09:17:05 AM »
There may not be a "right or wrong" answer (I guess) but there have been studies backing up the assertion that disclosure of one's HIV status to family lowers depression rates for patients, and since the depression rate is already 12 times that of the HIV-negative population I would think it rather an important discussion for this forum.

Not only that, consider the fixation with lipoatrophy. Tell me, what % of patients are even going to experience this side effect? Not many, and certainly not commensurate with the amount of hand wringing. Now compare that with the subject of depression, and that numerous studies illustrate what I just described about family disclosure. Sorry, but I'd never be so quick to be dismissive about any of this.
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline NycJoe

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #61 on: June 25, 2011, 10:38:46 AM »
I have told a few siblings but that's it.  I'm glad I didn't tell my Grandmother as she worried about me anyway and she lived to be 100 and didn't need the stress.  My parents are 78 and 89 and I feel no need to tell them.  I found out in 2004 and to this day I do not feel any stress nor depression for not disclosing to them  but that's just me.  My mother worries enough about my high blood pressure!  I am in the crowd of, each family and individual case is different.  No judgement whatsoever from me.  Disclose, don't disclose it's all good.  Good things or bad things can happen either way..or nothing. 

NycJoe...who is happy I can legally get married now in NY

Offline Ac75088

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #62 on: June 25, 2011, 10:46:25 AM »
Thanks guys, as I said previously, everyones different reasons has given me a lot more to think about regarding my disclosure, whether I decide to do it or not, or when I do it..But a lot of people here are right when they say that it'll come out eventually anyway..I am just hoping that it can wait until after the lifetimes of my mother and grandmother..They are the ones that truly don't need to no right now....And I am so sorry if I pissed anybody off with my little post earlier of "can't we all just get along". The way I see it we are all living with the same disease and while it's true that I did start this post, I didn't mean to get so many fired up over a question that is gonna affect everybody completly differently anyway..There is no right and wrong answer to my question and I totally respect everyones answer because it is what they went thru personally. To all the friends here that have helped me on this post and previous posts I really appreciate you  
01-12-08 Tested poz cd4 700 vl 8,000
04-25-11 Lowest cd4 count of 415 vl high at 250,000
05-03-11 Started Atripla
05-16-11 Hospitalized and treated for 2 weeks (neurosyphilis)
07-05-11 CD4 count 585 VL 550
10-04-11 CD4 count 700 VL 75
02-03-12 CD4 count 799 VL UD
08-08-12 CD4 count 838 VL UD

Offline TabooPrincess

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #63 on: June 25, 2011, 02:25:57 PM »
None of my family know either, similar reasons to you.  Plus I couldn't bear to see them suffer as I have for my mistakes.  I went through my pregnancy without telling a single person, that was the most horrendous time of all, the lies and secrets about it all were so hard.  I totally understand the guilt and feeling like you are living a big fat lie.  But let's be adults about this....not everyone needs to know our business, including family??
09/ 2008 - Seroconversion
11/2008 - Tested pos, cd4 640 vl 25400
12/2008 - cd4 794 vl 27798, 35%
03/2009 - cd4 844 vl 68846, 35%
06/2009 - cd4 476 vl 49151, 33% (pregnancy confirmed)
08/2009 - cd4 464 vl 54662, 32%
Started meds for pregnancy (Kaletra, AZT, Viread)
09/2009 - cd4 841 vl 3213, 42%
10/2009 - cd4 860 vl 1088, 41%
11/2009 - cd4 771 vl 563, 38%
12/2009 - cd4 885 vl 151 42%
Discontinued meds after baby born
02/2010 - cd4 841 vl 63781, 38%
05/2010 - cd4 1080 vl 113000, 39%
08/2010 - cd4 770 vl 109242
12/2010 - cd4 642 vl 111000, 34%
06/2011 - cd4 450 vl 222000, 33%
11/2011 - cd4 419 vl 212000, 24%
03/2012 - cd4 280 vl 118000, 26% (repeated Cd4 at 360)
05/2012 -cd4 360 vl 99,190
10/2012 Atripla, cd4 690, vl 80
12/2012 Darunavir, norvir, truvada, Cd4 680, vl u/d
07/2013 cd4 750,ud

Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #64 on: June 25, 2011, 02:36:40 PM »
Considering that some of you are going to live another 40-50 years in this manner do you contemplate what this is going to do with your psyche somewhere down the road? I just don't get it. All this gibberish about mistakes, guilt, "our business" while simultaneously complaining non-stop about stigma just sounds like a recipe for an extremely lonely, miserable life.
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline LM

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #65 on: June 25, 2011, 02:37:07 PM »
Jan and Matty, I did not intend to make this thread about me, but I also did not deviate from the original topic. After all, should I have created another thread about the same subject? I think what I said was relevant to the discussion, that not all families are the same and that you should know what's the context first. Just saying "go for it" is easy. To share positive personal experiences is great, but imagining it will always be great is irresponsible. That's what I think. And really, indifference is all I can ask for, not judgment, as some have done here.

I understand why you choose not to tell your family, but what I think means nothing, because they are your family.  It seems this subject is very hard for you and just maybe you are reading a little more into some of the responses, because I don't believe anyone has disparaged you because of your choice. As you can see, topics like these are incredibly complex and sometimes what we want to say, does not come across as clear as we would like. I would hope you could accept the comments here as personal opinions and experiences and just like your situation, there are no right or wrong answers. Only what works for you.

It's Joe, right? My point all along was that there are no right or wrong answers. This subject is not hard for me; what is hard for me is that, with all I have been through, I feel really, really offended that someone might judge me because I do not wish to disclose this to my family. Really, you may be a great parent, others may be too, and your families may be great, but mine isn't. I wish I were born in a better family environment, but I didn't, and it's ok, I'm at peace with that. I don't even need to explain that. What pissed me off is that while I'm thinking of both my well-being and my mother's when I decided to not disclose, someone comes and paints me as the bad guy. Having this burden is not easy and just insinuating that I have no self-respect and that I'm being dishonest by that decision is too much. And it's there, I'm not making this up. This forum was supposed to be a place for support. People with HIV+ are already misjudged so much, and then I see people in the same situation judging others for not taking the same course of action. I appreciate all advices and stories of personal experience. Not judgement.

Offline Joe K

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #66 on: June 25, 2011, 05:25:56 PM »
It's Joe, right? My point all along was that there are no right or wrong answers. This subject is not hard for me; what is hard for me is that, with all I have been through, I feel really, really offended that someone might judge me because I do not wish to disclose this to my family. Really, you may be a great parent, others may be too, and your families may be great, but mine isn't. I wish I were born in a better family environment, but I didn't, and it's ok, I'm at peace with that. I don't even need to explain that. What pissed me off is that while I'm thinking of both my well-being and my mother's when I decided to not disclose, someone comes and paints me as the bad guy. Having this burden is not easy and just insinuating that I have no self-respect and that I'm being dishonest by that decision is too much. And it's there, I'm not making this up. This forum was supposed to be a place for support. People with HIV+ are already misjudged so much, and then I see people in the same situation judging others for not taking the same course of action. I appreciate all advices and stories of personal experience. Not judgement.

Thanks for the reply and you do not need to explain yourself to me, what you decide is what matters. All I was suggesting that just because someone references a particular point of view, does not automatically mean you are being judged.  You may feel that is the case, but I am not so sure. I'm a decent parent, but my family never really accepted my being gay or poz, especially my father. I know first hand the rejection I felt and it would up that eventually we just stopped talking... he got dementia, then Alzheimer's and then he was gone. The reason I mentioned that this may be hard for you, is maybe a part of you would really like to be able to tell your parents, but circumstances won't allow it and I would think it would be hard to reconcile your desire with reality. I'm certainly not judging you, just offering some food for thought. For myself, there are times when I initially react strongly to comments and then I realize that my reaction is partly based on how true the comments are, regarding me. As I said, it's a very complicated subject and just because something is said, does not always mean it is a judgment.

Offline Betelgeuse

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #67 on: June 25, 2011, 06:26:01 PM »

What's suddenly flown up your arse? AC did start this thread, as far as I can tell he's done nothing to deserve any flak from anyone, least of all you.

MtD

Oh please all of a sudden I'm the bad guy here.  If you look at the history of this thread, I wasn't the one that instigated any of the cattiness I've seen from people like you.  I didn't say anything totally out of line. 

Drama queens.
04/19/11 - Diagnosed positive
04/29/11 - CD4 188 @ 12.5% / VL 18k
05/03/11 - CD4 171 @ unk% / VL 7k
06/04/11 - Start Truvada/Isentress
07/11/11 - CD4 not tested / VL UD
09/07/11 - CD4 252 @ unk% / VL UD

Offline spacebarsux

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #68 on: June 25, 2011, 06:33:26 PM »
That's rich - YOU'RE THE ONE THAT STARTED THIS TOPIC.

  I didn't say anything totally out of line. 

Drama queens.

 ::)
Infected-  2005 or early 2006; Diagnosed- Jan 28th, 2011; Feb '11- CD4 754 @34%, VL- 39K; July '11- CD4 907@26%,  VL-81K; Feb '12- CD4 713 @31%, VL- 41K, Nov '12- CD4- 827@31%

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #69 on: June 25, 2011, 07:03:20 PM »
Oh please all of a sudden I'm the bad guy here.  If you look at the history of this thread, I wasn't the one that instigated any of the cattiness I've seen from people like you.  I didn't say anything totally out of line. 

Drama queens.

I object to being characterised as "catty". I am a full blown bastard.

MtD

Offline LM

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #70 on: June 26, 2011, 02:34:08 PM »
Thanks for the reply and you do not need to explain yourself to me, what you decide is what matters. All I was suggesting that just because someone references a particular point of view, does not automatically mean you are being judged.  You may feel that is the case, but I am not so sure. I'm a decent parent, but my family never really accepted my being gay or poz, especially my father. I know first hand the rejection I felt and it would up that eventually we just stopped talking... he got dementia, then Alzheimer's and then he was gone. The reason I mentioned that this may be hard for you, is maybe a part of you would really like to be able to tell your parents, but circumstances won't allow it and I would think it would be hard to reconcile your desire with reality. I'm certainly not judging you, just offering some food for thought. For myself, there are times when I initially react strongly to comments and then I realize that my reaction is partly based on how true the comments are, regarding me. As I said, it's a very complicated subject and just because something is said, does not always mean it is a judgment.

Hey, don't worry, I know you are not judging me, you have been great and I think your idea is valid. Most people have been spot on, especially buca45, just one or two that made nasty comments, in my opinion. Sure, I would love to be able to count on my parents for everything, especially this, but I know I can't, and it's not for lack of trying. And I'm fine with that. I think my real family are my closest friends, they are the ones I'll ask for help when needed, so I'm not all alone in this. No one is. :)

Offline David_CA

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #71 on: June 26, 2011, 07:47:38 PM »
What I think is important for 'non-disclosed' HIV people to realize is that we often justify not disclosing to close family and friends.  Often, these same people say they don't want to burden their families, be judged, or actually acknowledge that they are HIV+.  I know this is why some people don't disclose; I was one of them.

I felt stupid for getting infected... like a real fuck-up.  After all, it's 2006 (at the time); we've known about this crap for decades.  There was no reason for my infection.  Thus, I felt stupid for it.  I didn't want to seem fairly bright normally yet be so oblivious to the risks.  What I found out is that my family didn't judge me, though I'm sure that they were upset that I allowed it to happen.  Still, I'm their son, brother, nephew; love and support isn't based on an action like becoming infected.  

I think that the point some of us are trying to make is to be sure that the reasons one uses to not disclose are honest.  It's often hard to admit we screwed up.  I know because, again, I used these same reasons to not disclose.
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Offline aztecan

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #72 on: June 26, 2011, 08:31:27 PM »
I didn't come out as gay for quite a while, directly anyway. I kept a diary when I was in my teens and my mother found it. . .  OOPS!

No hysteria, just lots of questions. Of course, this was years before AIDS reared its ugly head.

Actually, I thought my father, the former Marine, would have had the most difficulty with it. He was actually OK with my being gay and even liked my second partner, who also was a former jar head.

My dad passed away before I tested positive. I didn't tell my mom for the first 10 years because there were no treatments and it was a death sentence. I secretly prayed she would pass before I did, because I didn't want her to experience my slow, agonizing death, not to mention a mother burying her first born.

I finally told her when I started actually seeing a doctor and had to drive to Albuquerque, the nearest doctor at the time.

She was upset, she cried, then she started reading up on it. Then she started kvetching at me because I was "too skinny," and began sending me care packages of food, vitamins, you name it..

Bottom line is, yes, it caused her some pain, but when I mentioned this to her, she said she would much rather know so she could be there for me.

OK, my story worked out pretty well.

Each person is different, and I know family dynamics are different for everyone.  That is why it is a personal decision that I will leave up to the person.

But sometimes, it is the people we fear the worst from or fear hurting the most who also surprise us.

HUGS,

Mark
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline Ac75088

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #73 on: June 27, 2011, 01:33:02 AM »
My parents are actually in Dallas right now visiting me from Albuquerque for a week..I just can't bring myself to the conversation..UGH..I'm just afraid it'll make my mother sick
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Offline GSOgymrat

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #74 on: June 27, 2011, 02:27:54 AM »
Other days the guilt really weighs on me... I don't even wanna date anyone anymore and that is very sucky... My family also doesn't know that I'm gay, then again, neither do the friends I told my status to..I'm just one huge lie right now...

UGH..I'm just afraid it'll make my mother sick

This is obviously stressing you out. How long are you going to be able to keep this up? Do you have a plan? I worry you are going to make yourself sick.

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #75 on: June 27, 2011, 02:45:15 AM »
Gotta agree with Ford here.

Additionally, I think your problems concerns how you feel about yourself and you're transferring this onto the important people in your life.

You might feel that you're a vile and unworthy brute, but I suspect the people who love you have a different take on things.

That's usually how it works.

Perhaps some counselling?

MtD

Offline Grasshopper

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #76 on: June 27, 2011, 10:12:41 AM »
One week after diagnosis I told my parents. It took my father about an hour and a few scotch to digest the news. Then he scolded me for waiting a whole week to tell them.

This is a very powerfull song, listen to the lyrics :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlD_XNMCjuo

Offline mecch

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #77 on: June 27, 2011, 10:51:43 AM »
One week after diagnosis I told my parents. It took my father about an hour and a few scotch to digest the news. Then he scolded me for waiting a whole week to tell them.

This is a very powerfull song, listen to the lyrics :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlD_XNMCjuo

Sounds like a fun and great dad!
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Offline smiteler

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #78 on: June 27, 2011, 11:08:57 AM »
i should of clarified my post a little better before..
my mother knows about my status,i had told her
as soon as i knew,my dad passed a few years before i got infected..


its the rest of my family that doesn't know
i mean how far do you have to take it?  ???
tell everyone your related to?
one main reason is i have a sister with a screw loose and a mouth
that doesn't stop moving
if i told her i might as well tattoo it to my forehead
and get a recording that repeats it every 5 min  ::)

for me
yeah its a matter of fear...
fear that i'm giving control of my disclosure to someone else

i want the option of to who i disclose to myself
i'm not giving that away to someone else i cannot trust
would you???


there are so many dynamics going on with each individual
that there is no way for anyone to say whats honest,right or wrong
or otherwise....

Offline skeebo1969

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #79 on: June 27, 2011, 11:15:56 AM »


   I told my mom and dad, and it went really well.  Being that they were both dead they had very little to say about it.
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Offline Ann

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #80 on: June 27, 2011, 11:52:49 AM »
I think most people here know that I'm very open about my hiv status and most of the people I associate with know.

But I never told my mother. Not out of fear of her reaction or whatever, but only because we are not close physically or emotionally. She lives in Ohio, I live on a Rock in the middle of the Irish Sea and we haven't seen each other in person in over 20 years. We've talked on the phone probably less than a dozen times - if that - in the past 20 years.

I've never received a single birthday or Christmas card from her in all that time and neither has my daughter. No letters either, aside from the time she sent me a copy of her new will that cut my brother and sister completely out. That was about fifteen years ago and if I know my mother, I'm probably cut out by now too. (Not that I give a shit anyway, it's just an illustration of how distant we are.)

It's rather a moot point now with my mother anyway - she's in late-stage Alzheimers.

I never told step-father #2 (we're not close - I hardly even know him) and both step-father #1 and my own father died years ago. I never would have hesitated to tell my father or sf #1 had they still been alive.

I have told my sister and brother and they've both been ok with it. We're not close - never really have been - so it doesn't really come up much. They're both in Ohio too.

I told my daughter within a week or so of diagnosis. She was only thirteen at the time, but rumours were going around town (about me and a few others who were all diagnosed as part of a "cluster") and I wanted her to hear if from me and not some snotty kid at school who'd heard it from a parent. I told her father first and he came over and we sat down and told her together. I said to her "I'm not going to die tomorrow, or next month or anything like that. I'll be around for a long time to nag you to do your homework and do the dishes." She said, "damn!" :D

She took the news very well and I think a lot of it was due to the calm way we told her and also that we presented an united front, even though we'd been divorced for years. She knew that we were both there to support her.

I also took her to an appointment with my hiv doctor and that helped a lot. I knew she was worrying every time I went over to Liverpool and taking her with me one time took all the mystery - and worry - out of it. My doc was great - he made her feel very welcome and took over an hour talking with us - and also talking with her without me being in the room, just so she could say or ask anything she may have felt uncomfortable bringing up in front of me.

That same day I also took her to Sahir House (Liverpool's ASO) where she got to meet other people living with hiv - some for many, many years - and that helped her a lot too. She's been great through it all and now that she's 24, she's also a source of emotional support. It's not like I cry on her shoulder or anything, but she always seems to know just when to give me a hug and it's also kinda like we have an ESP type connection - she always seems to sense when a phone call would cheer me up now that she's currently living over in England.

My being so open with her over the years has enabled and encouraged her to be equally as open with me. She knows if anything like this ever happens to her, she can tell me and she'll get nothing but love and non-judgemental support from me, no matter what.

While I'm open about my status and wish others were too because of the deflating effect it has on stigma, I do realise that everyone's situation is different and being open isn't always an option for everybody.

However, I would urge anyone who is closeted about being poz to think long and hard about your true reasons for staying in that stifling closet. In my experience, the majority of people who stepped out of the closet are glad they did, even if those first few steps were terrifying.
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Offline LM

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #81 on: June 27, 2011, 06:42:20 PM »
You're the best, Ann.  ;)

Offline anniebc

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #82 on: June 27, 2011, 07:36:03 PM »
You're the best, Ann.  ;)

Ann is our "Rock" star, as well as being totally open and honest about her status and supporting others she has stood up and spoke out on UK National TV, bet you didn't know that did ya LM.

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Jan
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 09:12:02 PM by anniebc »
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Offline OneTampa

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #83 on: June 27, 2011, 08:26:05 PM »
Oh, Ann.  I'm just fanning myself. Your post was so spot on.  I can relate to several points you made as well as some from others.

Thank you.
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Offline LM

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #84 on: June 27, 2011, 11:09:47 PM »
Ann is our "Rock" star, as well as being totally open and honest about her status and supporting others she has stood up and spoke out on UK National TV, bet you didn't know that did ya LM.

Aroha
Jan

Amazing to know, but it doesn't surprise me so much, she is great.

You know, on another note, I'm bissexual, and I'm not open about that. Some friends know, but not many. About HIV, some will know eventually, but not many either. I have thought about being open about all that, but it wouldn't work for me, not right now. I wish I were a paragon in the fight against the stigma of HIV, but I have so many issues that I lack the power and even the strength for it. I do feel that perhaps one day, if I am in a better position than I am right now, I see that I can make a difference and I have the strength to face it all, then I might come out about it.

Offline GSOgymrat

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #85 on: June 27, 2011, 11:53:12 PM »
I also took her to an appointment with my hiv doctor and that helped a lot. I knew she was worrying every time I went over to Liverpool and taking her with me one time took all the mystery - and worry - out of it. My doc was great - he made her feel very welcome and took over an hour talking with us - and also talking with her without me being in the room, just so she could say or ask anything she may have felt uncomfortable bringing up in front of me.

That same day I also took her to Sahir House (Liverpool's ASO) where she got to meet other people living with hiv - some for many, many years - and that helped her a lot too. She's been great through it all and now that she's 24, she's also a source of emotional support. It's not like I cry on her shoulder or anything, but she always seems to know just when to give me a hug and it's also kinda like we have an ESP type connection - she always seems to sense when a phone call would cheer me up now that she's currently living over in England.

I think the way you handled things with your daughter was brillant.

Offline Ann

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #86 on: June 28, 2011, 02:02:50 PM »
I'm sitting here blushing. Thank you all for the kind comments.

((((group hug))))

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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline leatherman

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #87 on: June 29, 2011, 11:07:52 AM »
as a gentle reminder that anything put online is no longer much of a secret,
today's AM facebook post is the start of this thread.

leatherman (aka mIkIE)


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Offline likinglife

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Re: Keeping HIV a secret from my family
« Reply #88 on: June 29, 2011, 05:24:07 PM »
I realize that facing the stigma of "being a dirty, diseased person because you were careless and irresponsible" with a judgemental family is difficult but I was completely shocked when the most ridged and rightous of my family members have had to see that the virus doesn't prove I'm dirty... I prove that you don't have to be a dirty degenerate to have the virus.

Hiding it because you're ashamed means that you've bought in to the whole stigma thing and you feel deep down that you have something to be ashamed of. Hold your head up... give your family the chance to learn that HIV can affect anyone... even them. You might be surprised by the kinds of changes that realization can have on them.

Please don't anyone hide your status... the world needs to know that we have nothing to be ashamed of... HIV is a human condition... we are ALL human. Hiding in the shadows means you will never be free. It's like forgiving... it's a relief... like when a toothache suddenly stops hurting.
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