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Advice 7

I must have HIV – mustn’t I?

 Dear Gus, 

I recently tested for HIV and the results came back negative. However I’m pretty sure this is because my body has not seroconverted (I think that’s the term) to produce the antibodies the test will detect.

I had unprotected sex with a guy less than two weeks ago, about three days before his positive test result, and yes I was passive. I could have ‘slipped through the net’, I know, but realistically we are both positive.

I have known him for over six months. I knew he had other partners, but all were HIV negative till he had unprotected sex with his last lover on the day the guy dumped him – a real drama. He got really sick with profuse night sweats and weight loss, which is why he tested.

Anyhow, he moved in because he needed a place to stay, and I have a two bedroom flat. He got the ‘master’ bedroom and lives rent-free in exchange for massages and keeping the house clean, but it’s only till he can get a steady job.

Despite how I feel for him and how I thought he felt for me, he has chosen to ask someone else to be his boyfriend, and I feel emotionally damaged more by that than anything else. 

Scared – kind of 

Dear kind-of-scared, 

Such a lot of things to think about, and your mind is racing ahead, jumping to conclusions and clutching at straws, when you may not even be drowning. Not at least from the emotional backwash of becoming HIV positive.

Some facts first. You say ‘realistically’ you must be positive. There’s every chance you’re not.

Yes, you had the riskiest kind of sex you could have had with this guy. At a time when, because he was newly infected, he was very infectious. But even in such circumstances infection’s by no means a certainty.

Scientists reckon you can have 30 fucks with an HIV positive guy in these exact circumstances before there’s a more-likely-than-not chance you’ll get HIV. See this document if you don’t believe me. And you don’t mention that you had any seroconversion symptoms.

Now to the real story. This guy sounds young and attractive and a bit of a user, and you sound as if you fell for him, head-over-heels, hook line and sinker.

He’s still getting rent-free accom in the ‘master’ bedroom (oh, the irony in those quote marks!) And what are you getting from him? The occasional shag.

But you wanted much, much more, didn’t you? You saw your chance. A boy you fancied was dumped, and was hurt, and was ill, and turned out to have HIV. And you thought, as we could all have done, that if you were nice enough to him when he was vulnerable he’d fall in love with you.

He’s probably grateful. But gratitude and love are two very different things.

I wonder if your certainty that ‘we’ must both be positive is because you nurture in your heart a fading flame that somehow, if you both have the same HIV status, you’ll be emotional equals too. I wonder if there isn’t a crazy, obsessed little bit of you that wants HIV because it would symbolically unite you with this lad.

Someone else on the board you sent this to advised some counselling at the THT. Not a bad idea. But whether you have it or not, and whether you turn out to have HIV or not, in the long run, I suspect you’ll realise this:

A) You fell in love

B) You dropped your guard

C) You were spurned

D) You got hurt, and could have got HIV too

E) Which shows how much you need to be loved

F) Which is a good thing, because it means you’re human. 

Good luck!


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