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HIV+ and married with child

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RiderMan:
Hi...I just joined this site today, I wanted a forum where I could share my story and hopefully get feedback, based on the posts I have read we are all in a similar position.  I was diagnosed HIV+ in Sept 2012, I contracted HIV in Aug 2012 (so I got tested right after, I assumed something was wrong). I am married with a child; my marriage has been rocky and in August I was depressed and did something selfish, I met a woman and had sex (met online).  I am not a promiscuous person, in fact this was the 1st time I cheated, and I am going to pay the price forever. Since finding out my diagnosis, I have not told my wife...we are not intimate so there is no risk.  I know that if I tell her she will freak out, definitely kick me out, fight this in court and request full custody.  Is it possible to keep this a 'secret'? I am not on meds (yet) so assume that when I do start the meds will be a giveaway but am trying to see if this is even possible to do (i.e. taking meds at work and not at home etc).  I don't want to lose my family and I want to be a present father for my child.  Thanks in advance for your thoughts/views...

Jmarksto:
Hey RiderMan;

First, I am sorry you need to be here, but welcome. In terms of how you contracted - there is no judgement here. We have all had different journeys.

Starting with your diagnosis - was that confirmed with a Western Blot?  Also, do you know your viral load and CD4 count?

Now, more to the point of your post.  I am also in a hetero relationship with a child - and I have to say that coming home and having to disclose was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life - and my partner was fully aware of my "outside activity".  I thought my relationship would be over - and to be honest, it has gotten more intimate in an emotional way (our sex life has diminished while we figure out how to be safe - but we are working on that). So, while my situation is different I have some compassion for your situation and I am sure others here do too.

My interpretation of your question has two elements.  First is the logistical part that you mention - can you take the meds at work, etc.  The second, and I think more difficult part, of the question is the emotional/psychological part. 

Regarding the logistical part - you may be able to keep this a secret, but it would take some work.  The meds are one thing, the doctors appointments, insurance paperwork, etc. could be another challenge.  Really knowing if this could be kept on the down low would require way more detail about your life than you want to post here.

The emotional and psychological part would be harder for me anyway.  Based on my own experience, I can imagine that keeping this secret, along with the fear of losing your family/relationship with your child, is weighing on you. Also, the challenge with secrets like this is that they build on each other and become heavier and more complex and at some point the secret is out and looking back it was better to divulge the original secret - as hard as it seemed at the time.

Obviously I don't know all the details about your situation - but my first inclination would be to get some individual counseling, I think it would help to have someone to talk to.  I strongly recommend talking to someone that is familiar with or specializes in HIV issues.  That person may be able to help you think through the issues and outline a thoughtful plan.

Wish you well,
JM

mecch:
Sorry you had to join our group here.

Diagnosis is quite the shock.  You know, you don't need to rush into disclosure to anyone!  That's my opinion, based on the fact you aren't having sex with your wife. 

Why not take the time to adjust to two major changes, one just happened - you got HIV.  The other one will come eventually - how to move forward with your marriage (or not) and family.

I would encourage you to try to separate these two issues as much as possible. Obviously, quite interrelated.  But really, HIV diagnosis must be quite a blow so it will take time to figure that all out.  And you do NOT want to bury your head in the sand about the diagnosis.  And if all the stress and fear of the marriage crisis is going to make it more difficult, than wait on that disclosure. 

I guess it would be best if you can be a good "position" when you disclose: strong, knowledgeable about HIV, knowledge about your own likely prognosis, and clear about the future of living with HIV.  So, a few months of labs, figuring out how the insurance (or none?) will work out, etc etc etc etc. 

I think you probably need to talk to a social worker or therapist to deal with this first blow and seperate out the issues of health and responsibility, from issues about family and marriage. 

Eventually, on the family and marriage front, I guess you'll need at least some marriage counseling, and it might be essential before disclosure that you have ALREADY spoken to a lawyer and be prepared for the worst reaction.  A bad reaction isn't the only possible outcome, but I guess you should be prepared in advance, to protect your rights. 

Does that make sense?

Jmarksto:

--- Quote from: mecch on December 08, 2012, 12:46:22 PM --- You know, you don't need to rush into disclosure to anyone!   

[/quote

I agree.  I don't think my original post was clear enough about this.

JM
--- End quote ---

RiderMan:
Thx JMarksto and Meech.  I really appreciate your insight, this is helpful and reassuring, nice to have people to 'talk' with during difficult times.  To answer some of the questions:
- CD4: 555 (Oct) and went up to 595 (Nov)
- VL: 7000 (Oct) and went up to 20000 (Nov)

I do have a Specialist that I will be seeing again in Jan. Also have a therapist that I am meeting for the 1st time next week.  No meds yet, but I have read up on the costs which is alarming. Not sure how people pay for this, it appears that even with a Health Plan that covers 80% that individuals need to fork out about $400/month ($4800/yr).  How does this work??

My biggest concern is losing my family. I know that if I ever shared this info with my wife that it would mean lawyers, child custody battle, probably exposing my condition to others (i.e. friends, co workers etc).  The risk is too high for me to take (that is my current mindset).  My wife does not suspect me of infidelity, so that in itself would be huge...add the diagnosis to the mix it would be a disaster.

To add to this drama, my brother died of AIDS back in 1996; he waited too long to get tested and the meds were not as solid as today.

On a separate note, this forum is great, I have read a bunch strings and it has been very helpful, everyone's experiences have helped me...I hope that I can help others too over the coming years.

Thx

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