Do I Tell Friend’s Girlfriends He Has HIV?July 27, 2011 No Comments
Dear Madame X,
My brother’s friend has HIV. He’s a great kid but when he was diagnosed it really messed with his head. He went from a good kid to a bad one, but I know that inside there is still a good heart.
Last night my brother told me that he doesn’t know what to do, but that his friend is having unprotected sex and not telling anyone about being sick. Apparently, he believes that if people don’t ask, he doesn’t need to tell. He also thinks that using condoms will convince people that he has AIDS.
My brother wants to talk to his friend and try to get him to change his mind, but I’m worried that is not enough. I want to spread the word with the women he goes with, so that they can go in with their eyes open and use protection. Only thing is, the guy has only told my brother and if word gets out he’ll blame him.
I have prayed on this but I still don’t know what the right answer is. If I tell people, I might save some lives, but I’m certain I’ll be ruining his.
Damned if I Do or Don’t
It sounds like you and your brother should urge your friend to get some counselling. He needs to understand what’s going on, how to protect himself, and how to deal with sexual relationships. He also needs to know that he probably doesn’t, and won’t, have AIDS. Only if he does not take his medication will that happen — so long as he follows doctors’ orders he can live a long and happy life.
From a legal standpoint, pretty much every legal system I can think of could potentially charge him with reckless transmission or some such thing if one of his partners contracted HIV. Basically, if he knows he has HIV and doesn’t protect his partners then he is legally culpable should they become infected.This could mean time in jail and he needs to be aware of this. But if he has safe sex (i.e. nothing that can pass the virus on or uses condoms) he probably won’t need to worry about this (urge him to learn about local laws).
As well, he needs to know that using condoms doesn’t mean people will think he has AIDS! That’s preposterous! If these are casual relationships and they haven’t both been tested at a clinic then him insisting on condoms could easily be him protecting himself from Chlamydia, Syphilis, or HIV, not to mention unwanted babies! If they don’t know what he has, then he can’t know what they have. It’s also important that he knows that there are other STIs he can get that can cause big trouble for his health. Hepatitis C is especially a concern if he is co-infected with HIV.
If your brother sits down with him and talks to him, this would be a start. Maybe get some pamphlets and the number to the local helpline and urge him to call them. It would help him deal with his difficulty accepting what’s going on, and also give some advice on how to protect himself and his partners in the future.
Whether you tell his sexual partners is up to you, but I would urge that you don’t. Work on helping him accept what’s going on and getting an education about transmission and disclosure. One thing to keep in mind is that if people are willing to have unprotected sex with him then that is their choice, and they do that knowing that he could have any number of infections. It’s a difficult position, but his privacy is somewhat legally protected, just make sure you do your homework and know the laws.
But, even knowing that, you have to decide what you can live with and what you think is best. Just make sure you are fully informed and aware of the consequences before you say anything you can’t take back. Call your local helpline and start from there.
Madame X is a master of sex. She is adamantly pro-sex which she translates to pro-fun and pro-safety. An avid practitioner of the activity, she has also been trained in the technical dos and don’ts. No mere agony aunt, she knows of what she speaks. Send her your questions, comments, and concerns about sex and relationships here.