I’m writing this with a powerful sense of tweetus interruptus, as I’ve hit the daily tweet limit for the @WeMelbourne account HALFWAY THROUGH A CHAT ABOUT HIV-POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE OBLIGATIONS AROUND STATUS DISCLOSURE.
Lot of people now tweeting at me ‘condoms aren’t 100% effective you know, it would be irresponsible not to disclose’ or variations on that, implying that a positive person who keeps their status private is being dishonest. And I can’t reply and boy it’s killing me…
READ THIS, please: HIV scandal on Jack’d: Boy, that escalated quickly!
This is why I don’t believe positive people have an obligation to disclose to random strangers if they’re only talking about having safe casual sex. There is just no way to predict how someone is going to react, and some people react in vindictive, over-the-top ways that can result in a total loss of control about who knows your status.
Positive people themselves talk about feeling an obligation to tell their partner in an intimate, ongoing relationship, but there are different schools of thought on when to do it. Some will do it on the first date, so that rejection hurts less if it happens, but that’s going to make first dates even more nerve-wracking than usual. Others will wait until trust has developed and then disclose, but some negative partners react very badly to this, feeling they have been ‘deceived’.
Australia’s National HIV Strategy makes it clear that both HIV negative and positive people have a responsibility for prevention. That means we can’t just talk about what the HIV positive person’s obligations are. We need to do more for negative people to help them overcome fear of HIV and learn how to manage HIV disclosure when it happens.