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Op-Ed

Oh love, where art thou?

Contributing writer Dain Ray confronts the dilemma faced by people living with HIV: “When do we tell the people we like or the people who likes us that we are HIV positive?”

By Dain Ray

It is never easy to find love. But it was never this hard now that I am HIV positive.

I do not have issues with myself. I have long accepted that I host the virus.
My family and friends do not have issues about it, too. They are all who should matter.
Or so I thought.

Every time I meet new people, and begin to trust a few of them, I disclose myself as a person living with HIV (PLHIV). Disclosing my status was not as hard as I thought. It is actually a relief because I am able to share my story. There is a feeling of triumph every time I see their surprised faces not believing at first that I am actually positive.
“It does not show,” they say.
“Because it really does not,” I will reply to them.

The same thing I do with people whom I like or I have a crush on. I find a way where I can divert the conversation into me disclosing my status. When I have accepted myself as a positive person, I have decided that I will tell the person I like, the person who likes me, or the person I date, that I am HIV positive. He should know first before anything happens to us. By “anything”, I mean sexual or emotional attractions.

I believe that that is when the dilemma for PLHIV comes in.  When do we tell the people we like or the people who likes us that we are HIV positive?

I have discussed this with my lesbian friend and she views this as a challenge to my would-be relationships regardless of the period of disclosure. She said that if the status is disclosed in the “getting-to-know” or dating stage, it would not be hard for me to detach from the other guy if he chooses to stay away. But the challenge there is how to maintain the friendship which was formed, or how to fight for the attraction despite the stigma against HIV. If the disclosure is during the relationship, the trust issue becomes the argument. My partner may think that I did not trust him at the start, or that I did not care if he gets the virus from me.

I believed my lesbian friend and if ever I will have a relationship, I will not let it reach the second scenario.

That is why I always disclose from the very start.

At first, I thought I can get along with it. I was able to handle the first time I was instantly placed in the “friend zone”. That moment when the guy says: “Friendship is all that I can offer.”

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But this “friend zone” thing has become a series in my love life. The last time that this happened to me, I began doubting myself, the time, or the place.
Am I really not worthy?
Is it me or is it them?
Is this the wrong time?
Am I in the wrong city?

I am not the type of person who can manage to grow old alone, or pass time without having a partner. I cannot imagine myself continuing fighting the challenges of life without a partner, a confidant. I admit that everytime I see my gay friends and their boyfriends hug, cuddle, and giggle, I feel the envy – the longing…

One thing that I am thankful for is that I have not blamed myself for getting HIV. I have not regretted that I am positive. Although being a PLHIV has its own challenges, I can say that I am prepared to face them.
But apparently, I have not fully conditioned myself for one thing, i.e. being consistently put in the friend zone.

I have not lost hope, though.
I know there are still many open-minded gay guys around.
There are still those who will like me despite my positive status.
I am not closing my options.

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