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Ask Izzy: New HIV status and relationships — what you need to know

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Photo by Nicholas Swatz / Pexels
Photo by Nicholas Swatz / Pexels

Ask Izzy is a biweekly advice column about relationships, mental health, and sexuality. Written by Isabel Mata — a Seattle-based lifestyle writer, podcast host, and mental health advocate — Ask Izzy offers tangible expert advice so all readers can have stronger relationships, better sex, and healthier mindsets. Submit your question today by emailing [email protected] with the subject "Ask Izzy."

Dear Izzy,

I'm a Gay man who recently tested HIV positive. I am also recently single. How do tell potential partners about my status? Is this a dealbreaker? I'm afraid of being rejected.

— Positively Stressed

Dear Positively,

Thank you for being vulnerable and reaching out to me. There is a lot of stigma associated with HIV, but you are not alone.

The first thing you need to remember when beginning to date around is to be honest about your status. If a potential partner rejects you because of your HIV status, it's their loss. There are plenty of people out there who will accept you for who you are. By being honest, you set the tone for the rest of the relationship, as it can help build trust and communication.

As you go on this new journey, you might find it helpful to meet, and maybe even date, other people who are also HIV positive. The Puget Sound area is home to a variety of organizations that are dedicated to supporting people affected by HIV (and also committed to discovering treatments and cures). Here are a few to look into:

Living Positively
A social group offering support, education, and community activities for those living with HIV. The group meets Wednesdays from 5 to 6pm at Seattle's LGBTIQ+ Center at 400 Pine St. (the entrance is on Bellevue Ave.). For more information, you can email Joseph Grant: [email protected]

Black AIDS Institute
The Black AIDS Institute (BAI) is dedicated to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community. It believes in "complete freedom for Black people by eradicating systematic oppression so that we can live long, healthy lives." The BAI has a variety of programs; for more information, check out https://blackaids.org

Entre Hermanos
The organization's mission is focused on promoting "the health and well-being of the Latino Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and questioning community in a culturally appropriate environment through disease prevention, education, support services, advocacy and community building." It offers a variety of programming on its website: https://entrehermanos.org

POZ Community Forums
This is an online, "round-the-clock discussion area for people with HIV/AIDS, their friends/family/caregivers, and others concerned about HIV/AIDS." Find resources, programming, and more online at https://forums.poz.com

The Tribe Wellness Community
This is a "peer-to-peer support group for individuals or family living with HIV/AIDS, newly diagnosed to long-term survivors." There, members can find "a place to share stories, encouragement and friendship." Learn more at https://support.therapytribe.com/hivaids-support-group

Other community organizations in the Seattle/Tacoma region:
• Peoples Harm Reduction Alliance (http://phra.org)
• Pierce County AIDS Foundation (https://www.pcaf-wa.org)
• People of Color Against AIDS Network (https://www.pocaan.org)
• Peer Seattle (https://www.peerwa.org)
• AIDS Project Snohomish County (https://aidsprojectsnoco.org)

As you enter this new phase of your life, make sure to hold your head high. You are beautiful and worthy of love, regardless of your HIV status. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and if anyone ever tries to make you feel differently, they are not worthy of your time or attention. You will find your people.