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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman's Marriage to Bisexual Is Troubled by Threat of Aids

DEAR ABBY: My husband is bisexual. I have known it since the third year of our marriage, but I expected him to be faithful, so I figured his fantasies were his own business. Well, as it turns out, he has not been faithful, and he is HIV positive! We have two small children, and he is a good father. We have a lot in common, we rarely fight, and I love him.

But now the BIG problem: To be blunt, I would miss the sex and will not be unfaithful. Also, there is the whole AIDS problem. Will he get sick? Will he infect me or the kids? Can my children have their friends over? Should I be sterilizing the dishes and the towels? What and when do we tell the kids? Our families? He wants to stay married; now I'm not sure I do. I have been to a counselor several times, and I still can't make up my mind.

Please do not publish my name or location, for obvious reasons! -- HIS WIFE

DEAR WIFE: I directed your questions to Dr. Merv Silverman, president of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. His response: "Unless more effective treatments are developed, eventually almost all HIV-infected individuals will have symptoms and, ultimately, AIDS.

"The only way your husband can infect you is through unprotected penetrative sexual activity. Will he infect the children? No.

"Your children can have friends over, and it is not imperative that dishes and towels be sterilized. Studies of households with an infected individual have shown absolutely no transmission of the virus unless there was unprotected sexual activity with the infected person.

"What and when to tell your children depend upon their ages. Since a person can look and feel well for years, it is probably not necessary to tell your small children until the symptoms start appearing.

"What and when to tell your families depend upon the relationship you have with those family members. Remember, however, that this disease is very difficult to deal with alone."

As to whether you should stay married, only you can make that decision. Regardless, you should be tested for HIV because, if you have been infected, you, too, should be under a doctor's supervision.