Life is meant to be shared with someone you love. But the first step in love is dating to find that special someone. One of the common myths surrounding HIV is that, once diagnosed, you must give up any chance of meeting your special someone. I hear from newly diagnosed people everyday how they intend to give up dating for good. That doesnt need to happen. With the right precautions and a lot of honesty, people living with HIV can date, have sexual relationships, and find that special someone to share their life. Lets look at dating and maybe the toughest thing you will have to do ... disclose your HIV status.
One of the biggest concerns of HIV-infected people is confidentiality. For many, the worst thing that can happen is having others find out about their HIV infection. That may be the biggest reason HIV disclosure is so difficult. But when dating and beginning new relationships, disclosing your HIV status is wise, and in some states it's the law. The prospect of telling someone you just met that you have HIV is a very daunting task. People living with HIV find it hard to disclose their status because:
- Their HIV diagnosis will no longer be a secret.
- They fear the rejection that may come with disclosing their HIV status to a prospective partner.
- They fear the judgments and stereotypes that come along with an HIV diagnosis.
- They are afraid they will lose their only shot at a relationship.
HIV disclosure can be easier if you arm yourself with the right tools and know the right things to say at the right time. These guidelines will help when its time for disclosure.
- Explain to your potential partner that you care enough and trust enough to disclose your status.
- Assure him or her that it is possible to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship despite HIV.
- Always discuss safer sex and the importance of having safer sex each and every time.
- Explain that with the proper precautions, a sexual relationship is both possible and enjoyable.
- Important Note! In many states, disclosing your HIV status to prospective sexual partners is the law. Failure to disclose can result in criminal actions against you.
How to Tell Someone You Have HIV
When Should You Disclose?
Is there a perfect time to disclose your status? Probably not, but there are choices to be made regarding when to tell. As was mentioned earlier, disclosure must occur prior to any sexual contact. But what if the relationship hasnt gotten to that point? There are a couple schools of thought regarding when to tell. While there is no perfect time, there is a time that best suits you.
- Kiss and Tell those who choose to kiss and tell will go on a few dates before disclosing their HIV status. This does have its advantages. For one it allows you to wait and see if the relationship is going to get serious before disclosing. If the relationship stalls, your status was not disclosed needlessly. In other words, people who kiss and tell feel this option is best because it limits the number of people who become aware of their HIV diagnosis. Important Note! Before any sexual contact can be made, HIV disclosure must occur.
- Tell and Kiss there are some people who choose to tell and kiss, meaning that HIV disclosure occurs very early in the relationship, in some cases on the first date. One reason for early disclosure is there is less emotional attachment at that point. It is a fact of life that some people will not be ready to date an HIV-infected person. Some feel that it is better to be rejected early as opposed to later when an emotional connection has occurred. In addition, early disclosure implies honesty. Waiting to disclose until you have had a few dates first may be viewed as dishonest by some. Finally, people who disclose early find comfort in knowing that if the relationship does succeed and move forward, their partner accepts them for who they without conditions.