Gay Dating and HIV

In an earlier time I wouldn’t date men who were HIV+. Sure I had some hookups and fuck buddies who were poz – always practicing safe sex, but the idea of going into a long-term relationship with someone who had what was perceived as a terminal illness was more than I could contemplate. I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but to my mind it seemed doomed to result in heartache and sorrow. Perhaps it was selfish and short-sighted on my part, and perhaps not. I lost a lot of those friends as the years went by, and the loss of them was unbearably painful. If they had been my lover, I don’t know if I could have survived.

Times have changed, and/or maybe I’ve matured, but I don’t dismiss HIV+ partners as long-term relationship prospects anymore. Medical advances have changed the illness from a debilitating and likely terminal one, to one that is chronic to be sure, but does not necessarily impact one’s overall health or life expectancy.

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Like many in the community, I find dating site descriptors like “clean” a bit distasteful, and I’ve learned from experience that someone telling you they’ve been tested doesn’t really mean anything. Those brave souls who proclaim their positive HIV status from the get-go have my respect, opening themselves up to rejection out of hand.

If you’re HIV-negative, and your partner is HIV-positive, you’re referred to as a serodiscordant couple, and there are things you can do to minimize the risk of transmission beyond the usual safer sex approach. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV preventive pill which goes by the brand name Truvada. PrEP regimes have been shown to be statistically as effective at preventing HIV transmission as wearing condoms, so perceiving safe sex with PrEP is about as safe as one can get outside of masturbation.

For HIV-positive men, online dating and any dating for that matter can be difficult, and my advice would be to disclose your status up front. Those who will run away will, leaving you with those who are open-minded about your status with whom you can proceed. Failing to disclose your status until they get a chance to know you better, or have developed feelings for you is a recipe for disaster, and will be perceived as a betrayal of trust more often than not. If someone as pigheaded as myself could learn to come around to the notion of a lifelong relationship with an HIV-positive man, anyone can.

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