DEAR HARRIETTE: I met a great woman. We started dating, and we recently decided to attempt a relationship.
The other night, she sat me down and told me she was HIV positive. Although I appreciated her honesty, I am admittedly uncomfortable. I am not one of these ignorant dudes who think that you can get HIV from kissing, and I know that being undetectable (which she is) means there is a much lower risk of transmitting the virus. Also, I know there are methods to help with HIV prevention.
However, I still have my reservations. I would not be comfortable living the rest of my life with HIV if I contracted it, and I don't think it would be fair to stay with her if I am not comfortable with our current situation.
Should I stay with her, or should I leave? If you think I should leave, how can I go about this in a respectful manner? I don't want to make her feel stigmatized or judged. -- Medical Matters, New Orleans
DEAR MEDICAL MATTERS: What's great is that this woman was honest with you before you became intimate. This has got to be one of the hardest realities that a couple can face as you are considering how or whether to move forward in your relationship. While it is a fact that you will be at risk for contracting HIV, you are right that there are many ways to reduce that risk.
The big question is whether you can become comfortable in that space. I suggest that the two of you talk about it openly. Tell her that this is difficult for you, but you feel she is worth it. Before you give up, go to the doctor with her. Learn what you can about how to be with her safely. Here is some helpful information: aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/prevention/reduce-your-risk/mixed-status-couples.