Why does stigma still stop me telling my boyfriend?
Hi am a woman 24 years old and hiv positive. I’m afraid to tell my boyfriend as he is negative. My viral load is undetectable and I’m using ARVs but I always hide them.
What are my chances cos if I tell him he will leave me and I cant afford to loose him.
I have been open on my status many times but they leave me.
I am afraid I’ll die being single without someone I love.
Pls don’t judge me as I already judge myself everyday.
Your questions are all important and your situation I think is one that lots of other positive people are faced with.
I am impressed with your strength and honesty in being able to recognise and talk about this. Many people have exactly the same difficult circumstances and because of their isolation, they have little support to talk through options.
So while I don’t have answers, it is important to be able to post something about this online for other people to read.
One way to look at this might be if you think your partner might change his views over time, if he gets to know you better and if he also gets better information about HIV in 2014. The PARTNER study showed that treatment dramatically reduces the chance of further sexual transmission.
For example, you asked about risk in your question, and in this study after 44,500 times that an HIV positive people had sex without a condom with an HIV negative partner, there were ZERO transmissions as long as their viral load was undetectable on treatment.
Treatment also dramatically reduces the chance that there is a risk of transmitting HIV is you want to have children and your life expectancy is now similar to someone who doesn’t have HIV.
But stigma still continues because many HIV negative people continue to be ignorant about these facts. Your experience with previous partners is also common.
One way to test this might be to talk about HIV in general conversation to see his views. Or to talk about news and research in general conversation to see it this makes any difference. You could say you heard about a friend in this situation, or a cousin of a friend stayed in a relationship after hearing this.
If you think that your partner would react badly, and there is little hope for change, then you have to be careful for your own health. Even though he is not at risk because your viral load is undetectable, if you are worried that he may be violent, then this is not good a good situation.
Just as importantly, it may not be healthy for you to have a relationship where this part of your life has to be hidden. I understand that you get lonely and don’t want to be on your own, but you deserve a partner who values you for everything about you. Living a second-best option is sometimes worse than being without a partner.
Although I know how lonely and frustrating this can be, you have a long time to find someone who is right for you.
I don’t know anything about your relationship or which country you live – but I wondered whether you know other HIV positive people. This could help with support but you might also find someone you like where disclosure is not an issue. This works very well for lots of people – though it doesn’t answer all the other things you have to work on in a relationship. There must be other people in your community who are positive too.
Also – and this is a long shot – is there any chance your boyfriend might be positive and that he hasn’t been able to tell you?
Hopefully other people will add other views to this discussion below – but good luck in whatever you decide – and I hope things work out well.