While HIV is far from the death sentence it was in the s—thanks to viral suppression therapy and other medical advances—it's still surrounded by a cloud of stigma, with state laws that criminalize exposure. When you're trying to find the one, encountering misinformation and cruelty from prospective partners can be both frustrating and heartbreaking. We talked to several HIV-positive heterosexual men and women about what it's like to date while living with a virus that rarely gets discussed in the straight community. Joshua Middleton, 27, California.
The Dr. Is In: Looking for love when you’re living with HIV
How to Disclose Your HIV Status When You're Dating
We tend to use the word "normalization" a lot when talking about HIV. It is meant to reflect the fact that people with HIV can now not only have a normal quality of life, but they can also plan for the future, have kids, and carry on healthy sexual relationships if provided with the proper treatment and a few preventive guidelines. But even with these facts in mind, many people with HIV still find dating enormously stressful. After all, disclosing your status to a friend is one thing; disclosing it to a romantic interest brings up a whole other set of issues and concerns.
How to Date an HIV-Positive Guy
Dating is hard for anyone, but dating with HIV can seem like attempting advanced mathematics with just a foggy understanding of arithmetic. When is the right time to disclose? How does one discuss sex and safety with one's partner? And so on and so forth. Conversely, if you are matter-of-fact about your status and what it means to be safe, chances are he will be more at ease with it as well.
It's a historic moment for HIV activism, and an opportunity to defeat stigma of those living with the virus once and for all. These men have been good to me. We waged war against a plague.