a woman stares at the viewer, upset, while her boyfriend sits in the bed behind her with his hand over his face

Open with HIV and Relationships

This article pertains to advocates and individuals who are open with their HIV status. Although we are living in our truth - as people call it - about who we are and the condition that we live with every day, it's not as easy as you think being so open all the time.

When you look at a person who isn’t afraid to speak about HIV and tell the world, people see it from the outside like it’s so easy.

But you see, for the people who are not open, you deal with a fear of anyone knowing. For people living with HIV who are open and free about it, we deal with people knowing, but in a different way. We don’t have a fear at all and could care less about who knows; what we deal with is how hard it is to keep a relationship.

Partners who are embarrassed about your HIV status

Not that we are afraid of being in a beautiful relationship! It’s the other person who claims that they are just fine with you being open and how it inspires them, or how much they respect you for doing what you do.

Words we don't want to hear

But after a while, things change in a direction that we hoped would not happen. And the words go like this:

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"Can you tone it down a bit?"

"Do you have to talk about it all the time and show your face?"

"Why can’t you take a break from it?"

"Don’t post my photo on social media or people are going to start talking about me being with you."

These are our fears with being so freely open about it. We all want to be in love, marry, and live happily ever after; but sometimes, that’s not the case. I feel that people say they want something, but as soon as they get it, they realize that it’s not what they thought they wanted.

What are we looking for in a partner?

I ended up with a man who I knew for 6 years. I finally received what I prayed for in a man which was no abuse physically or mentally and for him to respect me, which he did. I rarely had to cook anymore because he did the cooking. He washed my clothes and listened to my needs, even when I didn’t know he was listening.

Ask for what you want

But, what I realized is that I asked for what I didn’t want in a man because of all the bad relationships I was in, and I forgot to pray about what I wanted as well.

You see, not everyone can deal with someone being open with their HIV status, no matter how much they love you. HIV and love together is a struggle because of the stigma. A person doesn't have to be living with HIV to be embarrassed or feel some kind of way about this virus and the relationship may not make it because HIV plays a huge part in our lives.

What I want you to do is to ask for what you want and don’t want in a relationship. If someone can’t meet those needs, then they’re not for you.

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