DEAR ABBY: I am an HIV counselor in Chicago, and I'm extremely concerned about the number of clients I counsel who have cheated on their partners. These are people being tested because they're afraid they have HIV, and yet they actively choose not to protect their partners. The usual response I hear when I ask them why is, "If I start using condoms, or ask my partner to use them, she/he will know something is up."
I don't get it, Abby. Can you help me understand?
There has also been an increase of married men having sex with other men. Again, no protection for the partner. Are these people so concerned about themselves and their egos that they risk their partners' lives?
Please advise your readers that I could be talking to THEIR partners about HIV testing. Have you any advice for how I can counsel people who test positive and refuse to tell their partners? -- STUMPED
DEAR STUMPED: Consider discussing with your clients exactly how NOT disclosing will affect their partners and their children. If you can break through their self-centeredness and elicit sympathy for the people whose lives they are endangering, you might be able to make them understand the importance of partner notification. It's worth a try.
One would think that a rational person would want to protect his or her partner from a sickness that could be fatal. However, the patients you describe appear to be either clueless or willfully selfish -- people without a conscience who do not think about how their actions will affect others.
I personally think that someone who knowingly infects another with HIV is committing a crime and should be punished for it.