Disclosure, especially to sexual partners, has got to be one of thet biggest things I (and I imagine most other HIV+ people) dread. To say it’s a complete quagmire is putting it mildly.
There are many things to think about here:
- Who do you tell?
- When do you tell them?
- How do you tell them?
- Their possible reactions
So, taking these in that order these are MY thoughts on the matter:
Do you disclose to everyone, or just the people who are more likely to be at risk? I won’t necessarily have the discussion for a simple making out session or for a blow job – it would kill the mood for no real reason, but if we start heading into fucking (anal) territory I will let them know. If I’m asked then obviously I will tell them, I’m not about to lie to someone for sex. As to when you tell them there are seemingly two schools of thought on this one – either tell them straight away (sometimes before you’ve even met) or tell them once you’ve got to know them. I personally have taken to telling prospective sexual partners and dates straight away, that way you don’t risk becoming emotionally invested in someone only to be rejected once you do tell them that you’ve HIV+.
I learnt this the hard way when on holiday, I got close to someone over the course of a week, we fooled around, we swapped numbers, but when I got back to the UK and he asked me out on a date I thought it only right to tell him my status. It did not go well. He cancelled our date for “work reasons” and stopped returning calls and messages. That hurt, that hurt a lot. So now if I’m arranging a meet or a date on Grindr or Gaydar for example, before we’ve even arranged the date I’ll just say “by the way, I’m HIV+ I hope that won’t be a problem”. That way if it’s something they can’t handle there’s no love lost, we can both just move straight on.
I know some people out there would rather whether someone is HIV before even kissing them, but I’m not about to wander around bars telling every guy who fancies a kiss that I’m HIV+, but if things get more serious please rest assured that I will let you know.
For those of you reading this who are not HIV+ please I beg of you, understand how very difficult it is for those of us who are HIV+ to tell you, especially whilst all of this is new to us (like it is to me). If someone discloses to you and you don’t feel comfortable taking things any further please be kind, but most of all be honest with the person. We deserve your honesty at least, after all, we were honest with you.