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HIV Postitive and Dating

When is It Appropriate to Reveal HIV Status?


A Lesbian Kiss on the Cheek

When should You reveal your HIV status?

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Dear Lesbian Life:

I am HIV positive and I like women only.

When is it appropriate for me to disclose my HIV Status? I once met a woman who I really liked. We kissed but then on the night that I knew we where going to make love I told her about my being HIV positive. She felt that I had betrayed her and should have told her sooner. (We had been dating for about 2 weeks). She was worried that I could have infected her through kissing. I tried to reassure her that kissing was safe but she was not convinced. That night she asked me to sleep in her spare bedroom because she was not able to share the same bed with me and needed time to be alone and "think". She also had a test and luckily she was negative, which I knew she would be because we had not done anything other than kissing.

From then on the relationship was never the same and we mutually agreed to just be friends. Is it possible to have a relationship with some one who is negative or is it better to look for a partner who is positive?

I am afraid of letting women get close to me because I am afraid of what might happen next and what their reactions would be when I tell them about my HIV status. Please help.
Positive Gal

Dear Positive:

Thanks for writing in. HIV and AIDs are something that I think lesbians don’t pay enough attention to. But lesbians can and do get HIV. It’s important to be informed of what is risky behavior and what is "safer" behavior. You are right, kissing is considered a safer activity and not likely to spread HIV.

You did the right thing. You disclosed your HIV status when you thought the possibility of sex was imminent. There is no need to come right out with your status when you’re first getting to know someone. That’s private health information that should only be shared when a relationship reaches a certain level of intimacy. After knowing someone for two weeks and dating is an appropriate amount of time to wait.

I’m sorry to hear that the woman you were dating could not cope with your HIV status. I think in a lot of ways, gay men are a lot further along than lesbians when it comes to HIV and AIDS. Then again, it is something gay men have been dealing with in much greater numbers than lesbians for many years.

I’ve talked to gay male friends who are HIV positive and dating and they too have had similar reactions to yours when revealing HIV status—the guys push them away, sometimes gradually, sometimes abruptly. But others have had wonderful experiences of finding a partner and soul mate where HIV status really doesn’t matter.

Some guys decide to be open in their dating profile. Others wait until they get to know someone before revealing their HIV status. Ultimately the decision is up to you. It’s a scary thing and one I’m sure you had quite a time getting used to yourself.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t date, that you shouldn’t date people with different HIV status than you and that you won’t find someone for whom your HIV status is not an issue. There are plenty of ways to be sexually intimate that will not put your partner at risk. HIV positive people have to learn to be creative in the bedroom and thus, can often have very satisfying sex lives.

A little education goes a long way. It sounds like your last partner didn’t quite understand what was and wasn’t risky behavior and didn’t understand what she needed to do to protect herself from potentially contracting the virus. The burden will probably fall on you to educate your partners.

The only thing I would suggest is in the future, the next time you meet someone you want to be intimate with, tell her a bit in advance, not the night you plan to be intimate. You might want to give her the opportunity to sit with the information for a day or two. Give her the opportunity to do some research and to learn what she needs to do to keep herself HIV negative. As the HIV positive one, you should be prepared to answer any questions she has about how the virus is spread and to talk about safer sex supplies and safer activities you can both enjoy—at least initially.

Remember that your HIV status does not define who you are. Just like your sexual orientation, being HIV positive is just one thing about you. If someone isn’t prepared to deal with dating someone with HIV, then it’s most likely their fear or misunderstanding coming into play, not a reflection of who you are. When you meet the right woman, she will see the whole of you and love you for all that you are.

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