Dating With HIV: What You Need to Know
While dating and meeting someone new can feel overwhelming for most people, it can feel especially challenging for those living with HIV. From choosing the right time for disclosure, to worrying about engaging in sexual acts with someone new – there are a variety of different concerns and anxieties to consider. If you’re somebody with HIV who’s looking to start dating, here’s what you need to know.
Meeting a HIV Positive or Negative Partner
For many people living with HIV, their preference would be to date somebody who is also HIV positive – one of the reasons for this is the reassurance that a future partner will not only be judgment-free but will also have a shared understanding of the lifestyle and symptoms of HIV.
Though this can obviously narrow down the number of potential love interests available to meet, there are multiple places in which you can be introduced to other people living with the virus – whether this be in person or online. HIV-focused dating websites, support groups and conferences are all examples of places where you can meet positive partners.
For those living with HIV who don’t mind whether their potential partner is positive or negative, there are further places in which you can meet dates, such as internet dating websites and apps, through networking through friends, singles events and club nights, places of worship and through social clubs and organisations, too.
Disclosure: When’s The Right Time To Tell?
For those living with HIV, navigating the appropriate time to tell a potential partner about the condition can be challenging, daunting and emotional. While there is no ‘correct’ time to disclose to someone that you’re living with HIV, there are a few things that you may wish to consider before sharing such confidential and personal information with a date.
In terms of dating, for many people, the options regarding disclosure stem around doing so before or after the first kiss. Telling your date after kissing them, whether that be on the first date or a few dates later, can have both positive and negative implications. A positive effect of doing this will obviously be that you retain your privacy until a time in which you feel ready to disclose your HIV status, while a negative could be the potential hurt your date feels at being kept in the dark about such an important issue.
Telling your date before kissing them is also a balanced case – on the one hand there is less chance of an emotional attachment being felt before a possible rejection after disclosure, whereas a minus could be that more people are aware that you’re living with HIV before you’re ready to reveal this. There is no right or wrong action regarding this, and the time of disclosure will be different for both the individual and their personal circumstances. It is a personal choice only you can make.
HIV and Sex
There’s absolutely zero need to feel embarrassed about living with HIV, however it’s because of this reason that many people may be tempted to put off disclosing their status – due to the fear of ridicule and rejection. For not only your own safety but also the safety of your sexual partner, it’s really important that you disclose your HIV status before having sexual intercourse.
One of the reasons for this is that even if you practice safe sex (or have an undetectable viral load, making it impossible for you to transmit HIV to your partner) it is wrong to hide such important information until after sex has occurred. This is not only unethical but can also result in your partner losing their trust in you, after having such knowledge withheld from them – which could also lead to their reaction being one of anger.
Having sex without any protection can also put both yourself and your partner in danger of catching sexually transmitted diseases and infections. In some countries there are even laws regarding HIV and the lack of disclosure before engaging in sexual acts, so it’s important to check the laws that are in place for the country you reside in.
Things To Consider When Dating with HIV
As well as the above advice, here are some more factors to consider when you’re dating with HIV or are dating somebody who has HIV.
- Be aware of the services and testing that is available (such as a HIV testing kit)
- Disclose your HIV status before any sexual act
- Ensure that both you and the person you are telling are sober and alert when disclosing your status
- Educate yourself on both HIV transmission and safe sex
- Though you should consider whether this is truly the person you wish to spend your time with, if you’re worried about a violent or angry response to your disclosure, ensure you disclose in a public and safe space, or with somebody you trust present
- If you need support regarding dating and HIV, consider joining support groups and forums to discuss and gain advice on the matter with like-minded people who understand your experiences
- Don’t forget that dating can be challenging but also fun and rewarding – stay true to yourself and don’t give up!