To Disclose or Not To Disclose…?
That is the question for online dating in the U=U era.
STIGMA WARRIOR Cath Smith shares her experiences with some of the things we can face as women living with HIV in 2017. Cath has been an influential member of Positive Women Victoria and previously sat on the Board of Directors as Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary in different terms. Cath decided to step away from her role on the PWV Board last year to focus more time on herself and her horses. Cath remains an HIV activist in her local community...
Let me start off by acknowledging all the women living with HIV worldwide and, in particular, the women I have met along the way who have helped me to choose my path on this journey that is the roller coaster of living with HIV. It is a privilege to be asked to write this article by our new Health Promotion Coordinator, the ever-effervescent Christabel. I have never been approached in the way I was for this article before and I sincerely hope it can be shared through many networks to help get the message out there, to every woman who receives an HIV diagnosis, that there is truly no shame in being HIV+.
This is my latest news: I am about to have sex!!!!!!
This is what I recently posted on Facebook:
UPDATE: FYI, I have finally returned to work. The kind that I get reimbursed for where it says PAY on the deposit into my bank account. This was always my plan and I have finally achieved it. There have been some significant setbacks along the way including my hospitalisation, at the end of 2012, but I just kept getting back up.
Thanks to the many supporters who have helped me get here. You know who you are.
Thank you all, every single one of you, who supported me in some way. You’ve come from every chapter of my life so far. Family, friends from school, friends from my life before it got derailed and the beautiful people from the beautiful place and community I have chosen to openly live my life in. And last but not least, my wonderful new family & colleagues from my times of advocacy and activism where I put on my Warrior Armour. How lucky am I!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The responses I got from both peers and friends (both positive and negative) to the above were amazing and helped to validate the choice I made that day I was diagnosed as a 35 year-old single woman still hoping to meet the father of my future children.
By choosing to live openly with the most highly stigmatised disease in the world that is caught up in sexuality, has meant I have had some very hard times indeed. I have only had sex with one person I didn’t know in my pre-diagnosis days. For the record, there has been one other, this person who saw me as a person and not a diagnosis. This was a lover from before my life was irrevocably changed forever on the fateful day in a little room off the reception area of the Australian Red Cross Blood Bank in Southbank, Victoria.
The U=U declaration has given me the confidence boost to get back on “another horse” so to speak and get back into dating. In addition to riding my horse in the picturesque Victorian High Country where I live. This horse is one I ride with confidence as a woman who enjoyed uninhibited sex before Diagnosis Day.
I’m happy to report I have met a potential darling, who was recently told when asking about their risk of contracting HIV from me during unprotected sex, that it in 58,000 condomless sex acts there were no transmissions of HIV, that he felt When he told me that he’d found this out and didn’t feel nervous, I was finally free. However, I have told that him unequivocally, we would not be having unprotected sex because he was the one who was the risk, not me.
Stay tuned, I’ll be keeping you posted!!!
Love Cath x