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Author Topic: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+  (Read 3450 times)

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Offline Yellow27

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Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« on: August 05, 2012, 09:44:41 AM »
I accidentally found out my dad is HIV+ now my world has turned upside down he doesn't know I know and I have no idea what to do.

My dad is in his early 50's I in my early 20's. My dad is gay and separated from my mother when I was very young. He has been in a long term relationship with my step dad for most my life.

I visit him regularly, it was on one of these visit I was upstairs looking for some headache tablets, my dad suffers a lot of headaches so I thought he'd have some, i looked in his medicine cabinet and found loads of unknown tablets and a clinic letter which said HIV 1 on it. The shock was unreal, I quickly left the room and tried to pretend I hadn't seen what I had but after a few hours once I had left his house I literally broke down crying. I don't know how long my dad has known, I keep trying to go back and think of a time he could have been ill but can't pinpoint it. I know my mother talks of difficult times when he came out and she once said she had to have a HIV test but I never put 2 and 2 together. I am also not 100% sure she knows as they are not close anymore so don't feel I can talk to her in case it causes problems.

Right now I have no one to talk to, my mother for the above reasons. I thought of talking to my boyfriend but I just can't, I don't want him to judge my dad or treat him differently, I sure he wouldn't but don't feel ready to and don't want to betray my dads privacy any further.

I see that my dad has not told me so I feel I need to respect his decision and not force the subject. I am just scared, scared that he will get ill, worried he doesn't want to tell me as he thinks I'll reject him?! I think that thought is upsetting me the most as I would never turn my back on him.

If he has known for a long time I understand why he didn't tell us as kids, we went through a tough time at school having a gay dad but we got through it. I am an adult now, I am worried he will wait until he has to tell us, say he gets ill.

If anyone can help me in any way I would really appreciate it, I feel like I am going to implode. I just love my dad and hate the thought of him suffering in any way  :'(

Online Jeff G

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2012, 10:05:10 AM »
Hi Yellow and welcome to the forums . The good news is your dad is on meds and the better news is that the meds today are highly effective . Taking into consideration that all family's are different I suppose you could say you didn't mean to snoop but you found his meds and now you want to talk to him about it . That would work in my family but I realize some family's aren't as open .

I'm wishing you the best of luck .   

Offline Buckmark

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2012, 02:09:57 PM »
You sound like a good son, and I would bet that your father would appreciate your support.  Now that you know, I'd urge you to have a conversation with your Dad, as Jeff suggests.  Otherwise, it's likely to come between the two of you (secrets have a way of doing that).  Tell him just what you've told us here.  He may not have told you previously because he was trying to protect you from worrying, or felt ashamed (unfortunately, us HIVers still have to fight against stigma and misunderstanding).

It's normal for you to feel scared and concerned about your Dad.  But he is on medication, and meds these days are so much more effective.  So you are likely to have your Dad around for a long time.  Make the most of it.  This could possibly bring you and your Dad even closer.

Regards,

Henry
"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline mecch

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2012, 02:30:06 PM »
Buckmark said you are a good son - did i miss where you said your gender.  Just an aside....

Your dad may never have been sick. Don't rack your brains.

Don't talk to your mom about it. 

But, since you ARE an adult, you can certainly talk to your dad! It was an accident you found out, but now what are you supposed to do with that knowledge.....  He now has some responsibilities to you.  His old plan not to talk about it with you is accidentally over now.  New rules.

Also you can just learn about HIV yourself to lesson your  fears. There is no guarantee your dad is sick nor is going to get sick from HIV.  First thing you could learn.  What is you found out it was diabetes he kept secret, would it be so horrible and traumatic for you? 

I wouldnt talk to anyone else about this because the accidental truth has been revealed only to you.  So its dad, or no one.

“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline geezlouise

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2012, 02:54:25 PM »
Just explain to your father that it was an accident and that you know. Maybe he kept it from you because he was afraid of your reaction but now that you know you can be there for him. You love your father very much and from what you wrote  I can tell you are a good person. I'm sure he will feel relieved more than anything.

Offline Common_ground

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2012, 03:05:11 PM »
Hi there Yellow!
Just some food for thought...

Since your dad lives with his partner could it be they share medicine cabinet? Maybe it is your step dad being +....
IF afterall they have their own cabinets your dad could keep HIV Pre and/or Post exposure prophylaxis, which means he just keeps the meds for protecting himself from HIV.

That letter could mean anything, unless it was a proper HIV test result, which makes me think why keep a paper like that with your meds? doesnt add up....

Anyway, a good move would be to talk to your dad.

Hope all goes well :) Stay strong.

/Sherlock

« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 03:25:07 PM by Common_ground »
2011 May - Neg.
2012 June CD4:205, 16% VL:2676 Start Truvada/Stocrin
2012 July  CD4:234, 18% VL:88
2012 Sep  CD4:238, 17% VL:UD
2013 Feb  CD4:257, 24% VL:UD -viramune/truvada
2013 May CD4:276, 26% VL:UD

Offline NY2011

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2012, 06:39:10 PM »
wow, that is a lot to have to deal with. Sounds like your dad is not ready to talk to you about it, but it may be because he doesn't know how to approach you with the news.  Even though my health and energy level is absolutely excellent, I still haven't told my parents, and I suspect it's the same reason your dad may have for not saying anything to you.  Also, it sounds like your Mom may have been approached by your dad around the time that he found out, and he may have kept it vague by saying that he has had an HIV "scare", or something of the sort, and may have suggested that she get tested.  For that, you should respect your dad for putting his issues aside while expressing concern for your mom's health.  To me, it sounds like he makes wise, calculated decisions.  And, I'd bet that he is already on a drug regimen that is keeping the virus suppressed and undetectable in his blood. 

You seem to write well, and it's an excellent way of organizing one's thoughts.  Perhaps you can write him an email, without actually sending it right away. Let it sit in your draft folder for a few days, and just keep editing it until it expresses exactly what you want to get across.  I think it may work best.  When and if you finally send it, it will give him the option to respond on his time without feeling like a deer caught in headlights if you approached him in person with this.

Feel free to reach out to me.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 06:43:11 PM by NY2011 »
10/26/2011 - SEROCONVERSION (hi fever+rash)
10/31/2011 - CD4= 154  VL>500,000 
10/31/2011 - started on Truvada+Prezista+Norvir
12/14/2011 - CD4= 750 VL=6412 (45%)
01/27/2012 - switched to Atripla
04/23/2012 - CD4=1,221 VL= 140  (47%)
06/22/2012 - CD4=1,224 VL= ud    (49%)
12/18/2012 - CD4=1,031 VL= ud    (51%)
09/16/2013 - CD4=1,151 VL= ud   ( 49%)
03/26/2014 - CD4=1,050 VL= ud

Offline Yellow27

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2012, 07:34:33 PM »
Thank you to everyone who has commented. It has helped to write out the situation and read the responses. As said I haven't been able to share or discuss this with anyone so it's a good to find an outlet. 

In response to some of the points I am a girl :) 

I am certain the drugs relate to dad as it was his name on the bottle. 

The more I have thought it over the more I am sure this is not a recent turn of events. I am quite certain my father has been living with HIV for a long time. A number of things add up now and it lays explanations for behaviours and situations. 

I would really love to talk to dad and tell him I know but I don't think I can until he is ready. My father has never been good with emotional situations and opening up, he only came out when I was a child due to a comment made by someone else and me casually telling him thinking nothing of it. I understand why now, this was in the early 90's homosexuality wasn't as open as it is now, there was less knowledge and understanding. I also think he was scared of rejection, but that was never the case. 

I do not want to force the subject on him and potentially make things worse for him, as I know many people have said it draws family closer together but what if he pushes me away once he can no longer carry on in the world where to his daughter everything is normal? perhaps he has been trying to shield us all these years and let us grow up with out any concern or complications.

I just feel so helpless and ignorance is bliss but I cant go back and undo what I saw. Is it possible to with hold the truth from him until he is ready? 
The only good is I can now understand somethings a lot more, say his depression. What a burden he has had to carry for such a long time.
I also need to educate myself. My first thought when I found out was he would die younger than I had imagined which scared the hell out of me.

If anyone has any more advice I would appreciate it. My main question is should I wait until he is ready to disclose? 

Offline mecch

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2012, 09:08:25 PM »
I personally don't think you should wait.  Maybe just a few weeks until you have digested the news and speak some more in this forum, and learn some more about HIV.
You don't know much and it seems you have some typical fears and ignorance about living with HIV.  That isn't a criticism. 

I would encourage you NOT to read backwards over your dad's experiences and life til now, and reinterpret things because he has HIV.  You really don't know anything about his experience, and what his HIV status means to him.  You aren't gay, you aren't a parent yet (right?), you aren't a divorced guy with kids, you don't have HIV.  You probably will be surprised by his interpretation of things when the time comes for him to actually discuss anything....

You might be surprised to learn that HIV may not be a big trauma for him, or not anymore.  It might well be that leaving your mom and becoming gay was a much bigger thing than having HIV.  WHo knows. You don't.  So resist reading into it.

I think when you are ready to be rather calm and not particularly needy, you should just tell him about the accident.  Ask him if he wants to talk.  Prepare some questions you might want to ask him and ask him if you can ask him some questions. 

I wouldn't do it by letter if you can manage to do it just by speaking.  Letters are too formal and you'll spend a lot of time maybe on completely irrelevant tangents.  Conversations are spontaneous and handled correctly actually DECREASE the drama around situations like these, whereas letters might get all stodgy and sentimental, or too formal.  And anyway, they are permanent and if they misfire, they are more permanent than a crappy conversation. You can change track many times during a conversation.  Not so with a letter.

But I'm sure when the time is right, you'll have a decent enough talk with your dad.

By the way, this isn't the first time a daughter has come to this forum with this situation.  Its a shock for you and now you'll have to learn about HIV in order to decrease your anxiety and eliminate your misinformation.  For your dad, being HIV+ might be quite mundane, completely normal.  Keep that in mind.  It is mundane enough that he leaves his drugs in his cabinet, knowing you visit, after all.  Thats a bit of an act manque, by the way (maybe he wants the accidental disclosure, a bit subconsciously).

Do not worry about your mom until the information is confirmed that there is some reason to worry. I doubt it.  She isn't dumb if she had to be tested years ago and also her husband turned out gay, she doesn't have blinders on, my dear.

Your dad surely spared you the news, maybe for reasons you suspect.  But only he can finally explain his actions. 

« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 09:17:16 PM by mecch »
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline wolfter

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2012, 11:16:06 AM »
There might be some practical reasons your dad is not disclosing his status.  My partner and I both had young children and it was a living hell dealing with the courts, having visitations schedules dictated because of our "lifestyle".  There was a period when I was only allowed supervised visitation at my parent's home because the courts felt it was a bad idea to "subject" my son to that lifestyle.

Had my ex known my status, I'm certain she would have used that ammo to further punish me and use that knowledge to her advantage.  Not sure if you have younger siblings, but this issue affects many people still today. 

If you father has had this virus for a long time, it might not be an issue with him that dictates he burdens his children with the knowledge.  As parents, we try to shield from children from hurtful things especially if there's no reason to burden them. 

Family dynamics are varied and individualized.  From an individual viewpoint, I'm not sure why it's necesary to comfront him with this.  You know his status, what else is there to know?  If you want knowledge on this virus, there are other avenues to acquire it.  You should consider bringing the topic up in general discussion and maybe he'll decide that you're mature enough to discuss it.

I'm going against the grain on this issue, but I'm looking at this from your dad's viewpoint.  I'd keep the knowledge to myself and continue supporting and loving your dad.  Everyone has things that we choose to keep private.  Some people are open books and others keep their books tightly closed and locked.

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

Offline ImisstheOldTimes

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2012, 01:05:58 PM »
Hello Yellow,

I was sorta of in your shoes in February. My family had seen my dad sick for some time, and he was hospitalized. It was only then that we found our his diagnosis, as he had PCP pneumonia as well as histoplasmosis, to OI's, he was not on meds, he himself had no idea that not only was he HIV+ but he had AIDS, he literally had no immune system. So there was a month between his diagnosis and his death.

I wish I had found something like you found, anything that would have given us a clue as to his status....but it was too late. In the last few months, I keep going back over times I could have told him to get tested.

I agree with the majority, I think it would be nice to maybe make a meal or have a cup of coffee and explain what you stumbled across. Express your love and your desire to be there in any way for him... Chances are, he'll be glad he doesn't "have to find a way to tell you," or that he'll be forced to tell you if he ends up sick.

Heidi
Life is a BANQUET, and most poor suckers are starving to death!

                             ~Auntie Mame

Offline Yellow27

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2012, 01:43:59 PM »
Heidi, I am so sorry for your loss. It must have been such a horrendous situation for you and your family to go through. 

My reservations for broaching the situations is not to do with my fear, it's his. My dad does not cope well in emotional situations. He can't deal with things and has a tendency to open up for a minute or two then completely close off for a long time. It might help for him to know he know longer has to sit me down one day and tell me, or it may make him freak out (silently) and cause him to shut down or back off. I don't want that. Also if I reveal I know he may feel pressured in to telling my older sibling, unless he already knows. Aargh its confusing. I just want to talk to someone to ask questions, talk out my fears and education myself. Is there any places I can call?

Offline wolfter

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 02:01:26 PM »
You might consider PFLAG.  I've included a link and if there's a local chapter, it'd be a great starting point.  Although they're not specifically an HIV support group, I'm sure the topic is discussed. 

Wolfie

http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=803
Complacency is the enemy.  ;)  Challenge yourself daily for maximum  return on investment.

Offline xyahka

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Re: Accidentally found out my dad is HIV+
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2012, 12:54:26 AM »
Just give your dad lot of love, and some optimistic hints, i mean something like casual comments "i think people should support more those with hiv, there is nothing wrong in it" perhaps with few comments your dad will feel more confortable until finding the time to talk about it.

And really, let him know any time, any moment and for whatever reason... you'll be there for him. He will surely appreciate it.

J
13/03/07 1er diagnóstico /Peso: 79kg
19/04/07 CD4: 494 /CViral: ?? /Peso: 80kg
19/07/07 CD4: 659 /CViral: ?? /Peso: 79.5kg
06/03/08 CD4: 573 (después de meses muy deprimido) /CViral: ?? /Peso: 79kg
17/09/08 CD4: ?? /CViral: ?? /Peso: 84Kg
06/02/09 CD4: ?? /CViral: ?? /Peso: 85Kg /HCV: Neg /HBV: Neg.
07/03/09 CD4: ?? /CViral: ?? /Peso: 87Kg / Gym 3días/semana y Natación 2días/semana.
12/05/09 CD4: 470 /Cviral: ?? /Peso: 87Kg.
08/07/09 CD4: ? /CViral: ? /Peso: 77Kg.
09/12/09 CD4: 510 /CViral: ? /Peso: 78kg. No medicinas aún
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27/07/11 CD4: 255 /CViral: 138000 /Peso: 78kg.

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