What is it Like Living with HIV/AIDS? - Fill in The Blank
What does that mean?
I kept asking the nurse who took me upstairs at the Margaret Sanger Center in the East Village for a second blood test to confirm the rapid test result. I was in shock that simply sleeping with probably close to a hundred men throughout my 20s - in college, in Rome, Italy where I lived for five years, in New York City upon my return - and not being strict about using condoms could have such a serious consequence.
I know how that sounds. It's embarrassing to admit that now, but I really did ignorantly think sex was all fun and games. For me, "dating," was basically a euphemism for casual sex. I had no type, no goal, really, and a bad one-night stand was just as much as fun as one that turned into a mini-romantic fling.
I naively thought I was invincible, that one day a hookup would lead to true Disney princess-style love, and never assumed that HIV would have anything to do with my life.
After my diagnosis, Matt and I stopped making dinner together, speaking to each other, and sleeping in the same bed. He was negative, and had been getting tested his entire life. We broke up within the year. There was a positive aspect to my HIV, though I didn't know that then. It woke me up and made me realize what I needed and wanted from a partner. Matt never been a good match for me, really; my diagnosis just shined a spotlight on that. The only bad thing about breaking up with Matt was the realization that I would have to start dating again.
But when you're the kind of person who equates dating with dinners, drinks, and casual sex, HIV can put a real damper on all that. I naively thought I was invincible, that one day a hookup would lead to true Disney-princess-style love, and never assumed that HIV would have anything to do with my life.
Dating after a breakup is already hard enough. Not only was I still trying to figure out what living with HIV meant, I couldn't just do that whole "put on your high heels and get back out there" thing that most newly single people do.
Dating with HIV, seriously or casually, is hard - even though it doesn't have to be. I am HIV positive, but it is undetectable, which means I am one of the estimated 30 percent of the 1. Undetectable means is that the amount of HIV virus in my blood cannot be detected by a lab test. When a person goes on treatment - I take one pill a day - undetectable is the goal. Staying on treatment and keeping my viral load at undetectable levels means that I'm going to lead a long healthy life.
Even better, it means that there's no risk of sexual transmissioneven if I don't use a condom though I'm better at that now, obviously. If a person is undetectable and stays on treatment, they cannot pass it on to a partner.
Fratti, like 30 percent of America's 1.
Fortunate enough to access to HIV treatment and care, she takes one pill a day. However, hardly any of that is common knowledge to people beyond the HIV community - particularly among heterosexuals. Speaking to Daily Mail Online, Fratti says she - like most of her straight, white friends - had no idea about undetectable viral loads. Fratti, like 60 percent of America's 1.
And so she started trying to work out what to do in the dating world - disclose her status on dating apps? Disclose on the first date? Leave it until further down the line?
One relationship, where she kept her secret for the first two months, did last a year - 'but the insecurities that came along with the initial deceit led to more baggage than was healthy for either of us', and they broke up. Most recently, Fratti tried some dating apps, disclosing her status from the start. Fratti tells Daily Mail Online, she believes the stigma and offensive comments made to people with HIV is down to not just ignorance but also prejudice and privilege.
Essentially, Fratti tells Daily Mail Online, she believes the stigma and offensive comments is down to not just ignorance but also prejudice and privilege. She adds: 'I want to use a condom so I don't get whatever STI they might have or make a baby I don't want, not because I'm scared of giving them HIV, because that is not scientifically possible.
Ultimately, Fratti concludes in her Redbook essay that she feels gratitude that having HIV has shown her 'what it means to date more carefully, like a "grown up," whatever that means'. Sex positive means being careful, knowing what you want, and respecting your partner.
For the past five years, I've been known as the 'HIV positive heterosexual male go?-to-guy', Dating and disclosure have taken on different meanings in my life. Dating after a breakup is hard enough - now add being HIV positive to crisis and should have known better, but as a heterosexual woman. Before Joshua Middleton was diagnosed with HIV, he thought the chance of a straight man acquiring HIV during sex with a woman would be on par with the.
However, he felt it was safe and convenient given that this person was also HIV positive. Other men in the study did not feel an HIV diagnosis necessarily prevented or limited them from having active social lives and intimate relationships with HIV-negative women. Although open to engaging in serodiscordant relationships, some men opted to keep their HIV status secret from their partners. However, disclosure became unavoidable in a long-term relationship, as in the case of Luis:.
Not all men followed the same delayed disclosure strategy. In fact, he believed that being honest about his HIV status was important to his success with women. These narratives illustrate varying approaches to dating, including ending current relationships, ceasing to look for a partner, exclusively dating HIV-positive individuals, or continuing a relatively typical dating life.
Karen Fratti has penned a powerful essay about dating with HIV in New York . beyond the HIV community - particularly among heterosexuals. Hivpositivedatingsites. Of social websites for anyone hiv-positive guys until he said anything. What is service gaps. Don't let being hiv passions. Italian dating. HIV-positive men are living long and healthier lives while managing HIV as a chronic illness. Although research has extensively documented.
Marriage was another aspect that men reported having to reassess after their diagnosis. While in jail, he had time to evaluate the impact of being diagnosed with HIV on his life projects. I had a plan for my life to be married with a wife, but that has changed. Thinking in prison, all the suffering, and needing a partner because I was there for many years and I need to enjoy being with a woman and having children.
HIV also destroyed that plan. The men reporting a marriage after being diagnosed, the majority married based on disease status. Sixty-seven percent of the married participants had spouses who were also infected with HIV. Reinforcing the dating preference noted above, the men explained that being married to someone who is also HIV-positive eliminates potential problems and creates a sense of normalcy. Felix explained:.Q+A I'm HIV positive and he's not
Felix: You know, in a normal day, I feel normal because my partner, we are both same have the same disease. Felix: Because of the frustration of not getting her not getting the person sick, you know. Felix: To me it does. Marrying an HIV-negative person also presents challenges. Several men described the issues of concern when the spouse is not HIV-positive. For example, one participant noted the importance of discussing the implications of HIV on marriage before they wed.
He went through great lengths to make sure she was aware of the implications and potential consequences:. I explained to her that this is an illness that is very very very severe and I told her that she can die also if she has contact with my blood.
She can also get the same thing. At the end, we both went to counseling. She accepted me and we were married. Benedicto described his strategy for a healthy relationship despite his HIV status.
His approach involved speaking to his girlfriend about the challenges, discussing the potential risks, and seeking counseling. Not all men follow the same approach when laying the foundation for a marriage. Orlando: We had problems, but later she started looking for information. I also gave her information and then she we got back together because she loves me and I love her.
She is still not HIV-positive. During the interview, Orlando commented that he did not disclose his HIV status prior to his wedding because of fear of rejection. In this case, information about HIV and acceptance were crucial to mending the relationship once he disclosed his HIV status. Fatherhood varied among the men in the study see Table 2. Participants who were fathers had 2. One participant, Manny 42 years oldreported having five children and was expecting his sixth child at the time of the interview.
None of the children were reported as being HIV-positive. Several participants pointed their HIV status for the strong apprehensions to having a family.
Heterosexual dating with hiv
For example, Luis had not given up on the idea of one day having a family, but he realized that HIV made it more difficult to have children:. I want to have a son or a daughter. It can be done, but you have to follow a procedure, you have to find the right person. Those are long term goals. My body is not the same like the body of a normal person.
We talked to several HIV-positive heterosexual men and women about I've had girls say they were interested in dating me, and then when. By examining how heterosexual men approach dating, marriage, and parenthood following an HIV diagnosis, this article aims to contribute to. Straight woman living with HIV says she feels 'superhuman'. Becky Mitchell talks about being HIV positive Dating and relationships. After my.
Like Luis, the potential for HIV transmission was a major concern voiced by other men in the study. Because of their HIV status, many participants opted against having any or additional children because of the potential risk of infecting the child regardless of medical treatments available.
Yet this was not a universal belief among the participants. For example, for Diego, having children was a calculated risk he was willing to take to please his wife. She wanted to take a chance and have a child. The child is three months, thank God.
When we went to the doctor, the doctor told her that the baby was negative because she took the medications. In an effort to prevent transmission, another man explored safer options available for fatherhood. Minor looked into the most advanced medical procedures available to reduce the risk of transmission. This is something Benedicto and his wife experienced while having their first child:. We went to counseling. We went to counseling for medications and we were told the percentage that she could become HIV positive.
So, we had our son. Although HIV has been at the forefront of public health discourse for roughly 30 years, approaches to living with HIV only date back to the late s, when advances in medical treatment altered the outcome of an HIV diagnosis.
Our data support theorists and researchers in that the men in this study are living withinstead of dying from HIV, reasserting the notion of HIV as a chronic illness instead of a death sentence.
The chronicity of HIV is underscored in how people manage to live after a diagnosis and work to establish a sense of normality within the context of living with the illness. The importance of normalizing life is highlighted by the qualitative findings of this study. For many of the men in this study, moving beyond the diagnosis implies moving on with life and engaging in everyday social aspects of life such as dating and sex, marriage, and parenthood.
The findings in our study indicate that being HIV-positive does not necessarily deter most men from having an active sexual life, marrying, or having children. However, these participants acknowledge that they reframe these expectations as part of a new normalcy with HIV. For the men who reported having an active dating life and even getting married, an important factor was the decision to choose seropositive or seronegative partners.
What It's Like to Date When You're Straight and HIV Positive
Most of the men in this study opted for relationships with women who were also HIV-positive as a form of risk and stigma management. Despite the known risk of retransmission or cross infection, there is less perceived risk for infection compared to serodiscordant relationships and less fear of rejection. However, it can be argued that the need to identify and have relationships with others sharing the condition is crucial to making sense of the redefined social world in which they live Hale,one with shared meaning, especially as it relates to engaging relationships and life-long goals.
Our data also confirm previous research findings suggesting that the desire for fatherhood is strong among HIV-positive men and being a father gives new meaning to their lives Paiva et al. The literature notes that although pressure to conform to social expectations of having children and a family is common, the stigma of HIV is seen as a barrier to parenthood.
Nevertheless, when the men in the study made a decision to have children or expand their family, it took place in the context of their fear of infecting the child or partner. Often the decision to have children involved a complicated examination of the risks and benefits by both partners while bearing in mind their desire for parenthood. A number of public health implications and recommendations can be derived from these findings, particularly with regard to the quality of life in the context of chronic illness.
Men Living with HIV
Quality of life is related to a satisfied personal life including a healthy sexual and dating life as well as, for some, the expectation of marriage and family. More concretely, the study findings support the need for interventions that provide men and couples with more information on risk of transmission and family planning, along with counseling on safe practices to enrich sexual fulfillment.
Additionally, interventions should focus on couples, as the complexities of relationships in the context of HIV require the understanding and effort of both individuals to maintain health and fulfill desires.
Finally, despite the fact that family planning also involves men, it is a component that has been absent from health programs targeting HIV-positive men. Specific programs targeting men should be developed to provide information about family planning and parenting options. Reproductive counseling with a focus exclusively on HIV-positive heterosexual men can be significant in providing information on reproductive choices and alternative fatherhood options. The results presented in this article must be interpreted within the limitations of the study.
In this regard, careful detail underwent in implementing and conducting a rigorous translation plan see Method. Also, the authors recognize that many theories and theoretical frameworks can provide additional insight into the findings of the study e. In future studies, it will be important to expand the scope of analysis and consider alternative frameworks to reflect on the wealth of factors at play in the subject at hand. In addition, although the majority of the men in our sample reported injection drug use as the mode of infection, the impact of drug abuse history on relationships was not assessed in the study.
The men in the study all reported to be in recovery, which is not surprising because the study focused only on individuals who were already in care, but it is an important issue to explore in future research given the potential complications e. Last, additional research is needed to evaluate further the impact of HIV on dating, marriage, and fatherhood.
Particularly, research is needed to determine the types of interventions and social services that would be effective in providing support and improving these aspects of life for HIV-positive men. HIV is no longer a death sentence. Life-saving medical treatments have set the stage for the normalization of life with HIV as a manageable chronic illness. As HIV-positive individuals are living longer and healthier lives, dating, marriage, and parenthood have a significant impact on normalizing life cultivating personal growth and fulfillment.
Overall, individuals who are more satisfied with their social support and those who experience less depressive symptoms are more likely to adhere to treatment Safren et al.
Last, but not least, although these narratives contribute to expanding the knowledgebase on the chronicity of HIV, more important, they help highlight the continued ability of HIV-positive men to experience many, if not all, aspects of life. In the process, the same personal choices they adopt to normalize life result in processes to de-stigmatize HIV.
The narratives of dating, marriage, and parenthood shared by many men in our study speak to rejecting the damaged goods status others often accept with their HIV diagnosis. These men are embracing the possibility of becoming lovers, husbands, and fathers. And I proved myself wrong. However, for many men in this study, dating, marriage, and parenthood become alternative normalizing spaces that can positively affect the perception others have, at least in their social networks, about people diagnosed with HIV.