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Author Topic: Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status  (Read 792 times)

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Offline luc765

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Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status
« on: December 20, 2019, 04:51:00 am »
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.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 04:57:52 am by luc765 »

Offline Jim Allen

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Re: Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2019, 05:46:58 am »
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

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.

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.

Quote
which is highly subjective

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 
« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 05:56:20 am by Jim Allen »
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Offline luc765

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Re: Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2019, 06:16:25 am »
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.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 06:22:26 am by luc765 »

Offline Jim Allen

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Re: Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2019, 07:17:10 am »
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.

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
« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 07:20:36 am by Jim Allen »
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Offline Jim Allen

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Re: Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2019, 07:18:22 am »
Quote
By the wayI see my post in the other section is gone? Is that section only for HIV+ people? Sorry for asking.

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

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Re: Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2019, 08:06:15 am »
hell Luc765. interesting discussion
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,
I can't say that I agree with that. HIV was an epidemic for over a decade before any meds were developed. Then, while the number of deaths decreased, the side effects of those first drugs did a lot of damage to the health of those first survivors. That accounts for the first 20-30 years of the epidemic. As someone who lived through all that I don't know that "quickly" is a word I would use. As an advocate, it's probably only been in the last 5-7 years that we've been able to basically call it a "chronic manageable condition" in developed areas. "Mangeable" is actually a very recent change in the situation.

in the end however, untreated HIV is the exact same terminal viral infection as it's always been. nothing has changed about the disease itself (although strains have made subtle mutations). People in developed nations still die of HIV every year, often from simply waiting too long to get tested and treated, or by not remaining adherent to ARVs.

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.
Though I haven't worked in the health care field, I have done years of volunteer work ranging from education to testing to quality oversight. The stigma against sex in general and the STIs of herpes, Hepatitis, Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and Syphilis is why all these diseases are still rampaging epidemics. In the US, much of the STI-treatment world has merged into the HIV-care field which makes sense as all are sexually transmitted and management of the disease is affected by getting people to be tested and diagnosed.

I would also point out that I think there is a huge difference in Stigma vs. discrimination. discrimination is the actual act of prejudism, while I think "stigma" is most often "self-stigma" and based on what is lacking for many people - good self-esteem. Personally, living with HIV for over 35 yrs, I've never been "stigmatized" by anyone for myself being HIV+. Have people made rude actions or remarks? Sure. But did any of those assholes pay any of my bills? hell no! so who cares what they think of me? :D Personally those people stigmatized themselves by exhibiting their ignorance and hatefulness. Have I ever been discriminated against? Nope. I had jobs, friends, bought a house, talked in public about being HIV+ but not once has anyone every blocked my legal rights.

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.
would you like to be imprisoned for spreading a cold to someone else this winter? LOL Criminalizing the spread of infectious diseases is just the opposite of how to solve these issues and does discourage testing.
leatherman (aka mIkIE)


chart from 1992-2017
Tivicay/Prezcobix

Offline luc765

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Re: Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2019, 08:52:30 am »
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?

Please keep in mind that "unaware" might not be the best term to describe what I'm meaning.
More like people who suspect they caught the virus but use this law as a loophole not to get tested and then go and have unprotected sex, spreading it knowing that without an official diagnosis they can't be prosecuted. But the reason they don't get tested in the first place is the stigma, which is in itself fueled by the expectation that once a person catches HIV he or she must change the way they approach dating and relationships. Non-mandatory disclosure laws help fighting this psychological problem.

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

I see, thank you for clarifying.

As I mentioned in the first post we're thinking about having a baby soon and we're currently discussing on how to approach this (mainly natural conception vs sperm washing). Either way his doc told me I should be put on medication to minimize the chance of transimission even though undetectable VL alone should be enough of a safety net. Better safe than sorry I guess.

Either way I see people feel rather strongly here on this subject so I will drop it. Just know that I'm grateful to modern medicine and the law allowing us to be happy. I will be back for updates and potential questions once we'll have reached a decision about my pregnancy.
Best wishes to everyone.

« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 08:56:26 am by luc765 »

Offline Jim Allen

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Re: Luc765 introduction - Dating & Disclosure of HIV status
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2019, 09:12:09 am »
Quote
Either way I see people feel rather strongly here on this subject so I will drop it

So far the reactions have been very mild, but up to you of course.


Quote
Please keep in mind that "unaware" might not be the best term to describe what I'm meaning.
More like people who suspect they caught the virus but use this law as a loophole not to get tested and then go and have unprotected sex, spreading it

If two people consent to unprotected sex, they also both accept the risks. Even safer sex is not 100% safe and comes with risk, that's part of life. I think it's unfair to hold one of the partners accountable either morally or legally.

Quote
knowing that without an official diagnosis they can't be prosecuted. But the reason they don't get tested in the first place is the stigma, which is in itself fueled by the expectation that once a person catches HIV he or she must change the way they approach dating and relationships. Non-mandatory disclosure laws help fighting this psychological problem.

In part, yes only for a very few people. The answer though is not creating non-mandatory disclosure laws for undetectable people if you ask me.  It's simply getting rid of laws mandating disclosure in the first place that cause or trigger this issue.  Not sure I would call it a psychological problem, although, I might agree that some lawmakers might want to check with their therapists regarding signs of paranoia. ;) 

Quote
As I mentioned in the first post we're thinking about having a baby soon and we're currently discussing on how to approach this (mainly natural conception vs sperm washing). Either way his doc told me I should be put on medication to minimize the chance of transimission even though undetectable VL alone should be enough of a safety net. Better safe than sorry I guess.

Sounds old-fashioned to me, if there is no risk of you acquiring HIV from your partner why the additional layer if the outcome is pregnancy?

I think a few of us parents did take additional steps in the past, although, know plenty who trusted TaSP (Treatment as prevention) and did not.

Anyhow, work with your doctor and do what makes you feel comfortable at the end of the day and good luck.

Jim


« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 09:23:57 am by Jim Allen »
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