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Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status

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luc765:
Hello everyone.
I (27F, HIV-) would like to share my story about being engaged with a HIV+ man (33) who disclosed his status almost 3 years after we started dating.

We're from a EU country with free healthcare and where according to the law HIV+ people can freely have sex without disclosing their status provided they can prove they have an undetectable viral load.
We started having sex about a week after our first date. We usually have protected sex in order to avoid early pregnancy, though we also have unprotected sex every now and then when I'm on the pill. Our first unprotected sexual experience was little more than a year ago, after the law had been updated in order to include condom-less sex.

My boyfriend has been HIV+ since before our meeting. He takes therapy adherence very seriously and so he quickly achieved undetectable status, which he has kept ever since. I can confirm this because after he disclosed his status he invited me to come to his bi-monthly doctor appointments so he could show me his bloodwork history.

When he told me about his status I must admit I was concerned about both his and my own health, but talking to his doctor put my mind at ease. By the time that happened it didn't matter for anything else as we deeply love each other but I must admit that I would have probably not engaged in a long-term relationship with him if he told me when we started dating, out of fear and my own misconceptions.
Almost 3 years after our meeting I was able to appreciate his personality, work ethic, healthy lifestyle, dedication to his hobbies, how lovely and affecionate he is to his dog and even his selflessness (he jumped in the sea to save a drowning boy without hesitation) so the fact he kept this piece of information for himself did not diminish my opinion of him.
Today we enjoy a great relationship and we're planning to have a kid together eventually.

I think undetectable HIV+ people deserve the right to choose if and when they want to disclose to their partners because they deserve the opportunity of being known for their more desirable qualities before facing the high chance of being rejected for something they have no control over. In a way this is no different than the battles such as ethnic and LGBT minorities had to face in the past.
They are already burdened by a life-long battle against the virus and the stigma so we shouldn't further punish them for wanting to wait until the right moment, which is highly subjective.

Of course this is possible only in countries where free healthcare and the law allow this, which is why we should battle for their rights until this is a reality everywhere.
Also this applies to people who are effectively non-contagious. People who fail to achieve undetectable viral load should absolutely disclose beforehand.

I hope my story can be of any help. Remember our enemy is the virus, not the people who are fighting it.

Jim Allen:
Luc,

Thank you for sharing your story. 

I'm glad to hear your partner takes his treatment seriously and the relationship is going well and I wish you both all the best with the plans to have a family together  :) 

I've moved it to this section "someone I care about" You are free to post in this section of the forum, including asking any questions you might have


--- Quote ---I think undetectable HIV+ people deserve the right to choose if and when they want to disclose to their partners
--- End quote ---


--- Quote --- Of course this is possible only in countries where free healthcare and the law allow this, which is why we should battle for their rights until this is a reality everywhere. Also this applies to people who are effectively non-contagious. People who fail to achieve undetectable viral load should absolutely disclose beforehand.
--- End quote ---

Do you mean in the legal sense or moral sense people who have been unable to maintain or reach a suppressed viral load should disclose?  Why do you feel that way?

Personally I think this is a problem, it's shifting the stigma and the rule or a standard merely against those unable to reach or maintain a suppressed viral load. 

Legally, Non-disclosure laws as a whole discourage testing, are counterproductive in the fight against HIV and strengthen stigma against those living with HIV. It's no good at all for anyone. We must not be fooled into leaving those unable to access treatment, maintain or achieve suppressed viral load behind. Also, why only HIV? Why not pick on other sexually transmissible illness, such as HPV or Hepatitis.

So I feel asides from the rare intentional transmission case the criminalization of HIV needs to end.

Morally, well each to their own but on overall my thoughts would be sex comes with known risks and having sex is consenting to those possible risks. People need to start being responsible for themselves by reducting those risks through condoms & PrEP instead of shifting their personal responsibility onto others or relying on false security offered by thinking the disclosure should occur.


--- Quote ---they deserve the opportunity of being known for their more desirable qualities before facing the high chance of being rejected for something they have no control over. In a way this is no different than the battles such as ethnic and LGBT minorities had to face in the past.
--- End quote ---


--- Quote ---which is highly subjective
--- End quote ---

Agreed, timing putting any laws aside is subjective. Each to their own although, my experience as someone living with HIV it's better to find out sooner rather than later if the person I am dating is someone can cope living with someone who has a manageable illness to prevent wasting my time.

I also have to admit that if I was dating and too far down the line someone disclosed an acquired illness to me or I found out that I would be out the door. Not because of the illness itself but because the trust would be over for not telling me sooner, a choice I'm entitled to make.

Best, Jim 

luc765:
Hello, thanks for your reply.

I believe HIV is a unique disease as it very quickly went from a death sentence to something that is more or less a chronic annoyance in the developed world, but it left us with a tremendous scar for killing millions of people so quickly. Had modern HAART been available in the 80's before it developed its reputation, the stigma wouldn't exist. This is why other chronic STDs like herpes aren't comparable in my opinion.

I also don't believe non-disclosure laws discourage testing, as prevention campaigns that promote free and highly confidential testing have shown to be effective. The 90/90/90 statistics from many European countries can attest to that. There is a strong correlation between the two.

I would like to add however that the laws aren't perfect. What actually discourages testing is that in many EU countries you can't be accountable for infecing someone if you were unaware of your status. This is the truly harmful law that discourages testing and that should be fixed.

When my bf disclosed his status he explained that he doesn't wish to hurt anyone but at the same time he will take every right he's allowed to as long as the stigma is so powerful.
He was also perfectly aware that I could have broken up with him on the spot and would have understood. The fact he was ready to face the consequences is what above all else convinced me that his heart was in the right place. Well, that and his bloodwork history that showed he was never a danger to me.
By the wayI see my post in the other section is gone? Is that section only for HIV+ people? Sorry for asking.

Jim Allen:
Well, I was not thinking of Herpes but more like Hepatitis that kills about the same if not more people yearly than HIV and is also heavily stigmatized and had treatment been around in the 80's a lot of lives would have been saved but the stigma would still be there, a lot of the stigma was back then and is today fueled by underlying homophobia 

As for 90-90-90 in the EU it has taken many years and we are far from there yet, many of the nations have not had disclosure laws for years, some still do but perhaps it's a lesson for the removal of laws elsewhere.
https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.48.1800622
 
I would argue that overall the negative attitudes persist, even in the EU although better than the past but things are not helped by meaningless disclosure laws either here or abroad with some people reporting not to test out of fear of stigmatization including legal enforcements.


--- Quote --- What actually discourages testing is that in many EU countries you can't be accountable for infecting someone if you were unaware of your status. This is the truly harmful law that discourages testing and that should be fixed.
--- End quote ---

So you feel it's harmful by not criminalizing unintentional transmission i.e someone who is unaware of their status. Do you really think that? You would hold someone accountable for transmission during consensual sex whereby both parties by default agree to the possible risks that come from sex?

Plenty of nations as you pointed out have reached the 90-90-90 goals without the needing new or additional criminalizing of unintentional transmissions

I kind of get the point if what you are saying is since ignorance of one’s status might be perceived as the best defence in a criminal lawsuit it might discourage testing as well, however, getting back to it by removing the disclosure/criminalization laws in the first place that barrier would be gone.

End of the day each to their own but speaking for myself I find some of your thoughts about HIV scary if I am honest and something I would protest if there ever was any official or government moves into that direction.   

Best, Jim

Jim Allen:

--- Quote ---By the wayI see my post in the other section is gone? Is that section only for HIV+ people? Sorry for asking.
--- End quote ---

Correct, in the section "someone I care about" you are free to post, including asking any questions you might have

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