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Read Letter

My Girlfriend Is HIV Positive

My dear Jack, seems a tough one but let’s walk through the issues. The first thing you should be thankful about is that you have an honest girlfriend. She could have hidden the fact. You wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t told you, and that goes to her character. She has conscience at least. And she doesn’t want to marry you under false pretences hence the disclosure. If she’s the type that just wants to marry, she’ll never tell you. You’ll find out after one random blood test.

Of course the marriage would be over at the discovery. You’ll be consternated at the level of deceit. You’ll wonder at her character. Character is a major component in our marital choice, we just don’t realise. However you dice it – up or down, you’ll keep arriving at the issue of character.

Let’s also give you your dues. You seem like a man with character too. If she didn’t consider you trustworthy she might not have opened up; she’ll hide the fact. Or if she found the relationship getting chummier and chummier she might have terminated it for no apparent reason. And that’s because she’ll be afraid of the truth coming out, which it will at some point or the other. Sex will be a risk in such a relationship. (You might have slept with her before the truth became evident). So there’s something fundamental to both of you – you both have character.

Here’s another due: If you feel you can’t handle it, no one can condemn you. It’s your life, your health. Some have faith for it, some don’t. If you don’t, it’s understandable and no one can crucify you. Even she will understand however painful, though she’ll always be at the intersection of desire and disclosure. It’s almost like a Shrek kind of thing, you know, Fiona’s secret and predicament. It’s a terrible life burden.

Now, you didn’t disclose to me how she contracted HIV. It could be through careless blood transfusion, sex, or other means. It really doesn’t matter how, and you know how I hate to condemn people. The reality is the reality. She won’t get such an easy pass from others however. If the information is not properly handled she’ll become a pariah. That’s the brutality of the society we live in, and yet it CAN happen to anyone. I’ve always believed those who condemn others don’t use the mirror. If you have a log in your eye the speck you see in other people’s eyes is actually the log in your eye. Fills your vision. You couldn’t possibly see the speck in other people’s eyes when even your peripheral vision is blocked. If she contracted HIV through sex it’s better to track down the transmitter so he doesn’t keep infecting others. If he knows he’s infected and keeps on having unprotected sex, that’s criminal. He’ll actually go to jail in some countries.

Now we arrive at the issue of proceeding with the relationship. It depends on you. Is it something you can handle? If you can’t make a determination as to whether it’s something you can handle, that tells you it’s something you CAN’T handle. If you can’t handle it, it’s better you leave the poor woman alone. Your relationship has to be “normal” if it will have any chance of survival under the circumstances. You can’t hold the issue over her head like some sword of Damocles. You can’t have a quarrel and punitively reference it. What I do know is that it’s the viral load that counts. There are many people on HIV medication with undetectable viral load. The use of condom is of course highly recommended for intimacy given her status. But it’s best to see an HIV specialist before embarking on marital journey. The HIV specialist will give you pertinent technical information. You can then take whatever decision you need to take from a position of knowledge and not prejudice. Whatever information you gather from the specialist will help you reach that decision.

There are only two directions this thing can go actually – either you proceed to marriage or you end the relationship. If you do decide to proceed to marriage, there are hurdles you’ll need to overcome family-wise. Each family is different of course but you have a very dramatic mum. She’s going to make a major play of this. In many respects, she reminds me of some actresses on Africa Magic. She may report you to everyone. You’re her favourite son. Or if you’ve seen Wedding Party, she reminds me of the mother of the bride in that movie. However, your mum is your mum and you can’t change her. You may need to start with your dad in the circumstances. Broaching such a subject in a family gathering is not wise. And it’s a very sensitive subject. The sensibilities in Western countries of course differ, but you’re in Africa. If you do decide to proceed with the marriage, you will need a lot of wisdom is what I’m telling you.

On the other hand, you may decide not to go on with the relationship. Like I said no one can begrudge you on that. If you don’t have the faith, then don’t. It’s your life, it’s your decision, it’s your marriage. If you do decide you can’t handle it, have a sit down with your girlfriend and have a sincere and honest conversation. You’ve got to be gentle and be a man. You can’t hide behind a finger. Walk her through your thoughts and be gentle. You’re essentially breaking up with her because of her condition, that’s the real fact. Maybe we’ll get to a point soon enough in which we’ll have total cure for AIDS. That’s a prayer to covet. In the meantime, we’ll have to keep dealing with the social and psychological consequences of the dreaded virus. Sometimes, we have to face tough decisions very early in life. We’re thus forced into manhood. Manhood is about responsibility. You’re at the cusp of manhood therefore. You have to take responsibility for your choices and decisions. Nobody is going to make this decision for you. It has to be you making your decision. It’s why you need conviction in life. I’ll await your decision on the matter.

Your mentor, LA

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Tags : HIV Positive, Character, Dating, Family, Choosing, Choices, Decision, Honesty

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