My female friend—no, really—slept with a guy recently. Before they fucked, she asked him if he has any STD's. He said no, they used a condom, and she said it was the best sex she ever had. She was hoping to take the relationship to the next level. Later that week, he told my friend that he had some medical problem that has a social stigma, but wouldn't say what it is. He was afraid that she'd see him differently. We were like, intersex? Herpes? Vampire?

He finally confessed to being HIV-positive. My advice to her was to stop seeing this guy. He lied to her when she asked him outright, and I feel like someone has the right to know that they are fucking someone with HIV, even if they are using condoms. Am I being poz-phobic? Do people with HIV have an obligation to let the person they are fucking know beforehand and not freak them out after? This is a DTMFA situation, right?

Her Best Friend

My response after the jump...


This is going to take some unpacking: If the poz guy who fucked your friend is on antiretroviral therapy and if his viral load is undetectable (people with undetectable viral loads present an "extremely low" risk of infection) and if they used condoms, then your friend's risk of acquiring HIV during this encounter was very, very, very low.

I say that not to excuse the actions of the poz guy, but to set your friend's mind at ease... and to put the actions of the poz guy into perspective.

Personally, HBF, I think the guy should've disclosed his status—if only to save himself the guilt, grief, and recrimination—and, indeed, under the circumstances I agree that he was obligated to disclose. Not because he's HIV-positive, but because he was asked a direct question. (I think HIV-positive people should disclose; I don't think they must disclose. They are, however, obligated to protect the health of their partners by using condoms.) Perhaps this guy—in the heat of the moment—balanced what he knew about his health (undetectable viral load) and condoms (very effective at blocking transmission) against his fear of rejection and his desire for intimacy. And in the moment he made the wrong choice: he opted to withhold relevant, requested information about his health while taking steps to protect his sex partner's health by carefully and conscientiously using a condom.

Am I being too kind? Perhaps. But I'm inclined to see good in this guy because he recognized—quickly—that he'd made a mistake and "confessed" to being HIV-positive. He could've just disappeared.

Should your friend keep seeing him? Well, that depends on how much she likes him, how she feels about his behavior. If his after-the-fact confession redeems him in her eyes—if he seems sincere and contrite—and if she's not pozphobic, your friend may be willing to give the guy a second chance.