Making connections when you’re HIV positive


Finding a connection based on respect, honesty and some level of trust is critical to form a connection. Photo: Supplied.

Finding a connection for the short or long term based on respect, honesty and some level of trust is critical to form a connection.

Whatever your gender or identify, finding friends, lovers, partners, or fuck buddies can be exciting, tense or filled with high emotions of all kinds. If you’re also ‘coming out’ around the same time, whatever your age or life circumstance, this can add extra feelings of anxiety, liberation, or stress.

Whether you’re in the city, metropolitan areas or living more regionally or rurally, it’s likely one or more of the many dating apps like Grindr, Scruff, Tinder, Bumble, to name a few, are your go-to option. Preferences, desire and pleasure, likes and dislikes are labelled and tagged and you’re soon swiping, clicking, ticking or matching.

When you’re ready to date, hook-up, look for a longer-term partner, or any other combination, you’ll also want to feel comfortable, valued and safe. Finding a connection for the short- or long term based on respect, honesty and some level of trust is critical to form a connection. Relationships for people living with HIV or another manageable health condition, are no different.

When you’re seeking connection, and also managing the added burden of stigma and ignorance, it would be reasonable to think that others who share a common sense of ‘othering’ or ‘difference’, and have been through disclosure with their own family and loved ones, might be more accepting and empathetic. Unfortunately, outdated misconceptions and cognitive biases hold a strong sway over opinions and reactions.

Knowing that people often react without thinking, especially when they rely on inaccurate information, can make a conversation about your HIV status uncomfortably challenging. Timing this piece of important news can be tricky. There’s no rule book or roadmap on how or when to have this conversation with new partners. It can be daunting to talk about HIV when you’ve only just met someone, while putting it off might cause issues later on.

While it’s possible to put this information upfront on your dating profile, sometimes this can feel stigmatising in itself. Other people find this a helpful strategy to filter out potential partners with discriminatory views. If you’re also coming out as gay or queer, this might not be something you want to ‘put out there’ right away.

If you need to brainstorm or talk your options over with someone who understands, through Positive Life anyone living with HIV in NSW can have a one-on-one conversation with an accredited counsellor who’s also either living with HIV or directly affected by HIV.

Positive Life NSW has two counsellors, who understand what it’s like to live with HIV. They can also support you in developing and sustaining healthy relationships. Get in touch on (02) 8357 8386, 1800 245 677 (freecall outside metro areas) or email contact@positivelife.org.au for a confidential initial intake process.

-Positive Life NSW is the representative body for all people living with HIV in NSW. To find out more go to www.positivelife.org.au

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