Stop HIV & hep C now

Via Thinkstock
Via Thinkstock

Show me your status and I’ll show you mine, get tested to be my Valentine

By Andrea Arscott, Senior Columnist

Everyone deserves love, and if you’re HIV-positive, you might just need to be extra confident in yourself and your health in order to meet the right person. If you’re an online dater, there’s an abundant selection of websites to choose from (PlentyOfFish, Match, eHarmony, ChristianMingle, etc.), and you have the option of dipping your toes into a different pool by wading through dating sites specifically for people with HIV and/or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The Positive Connection and HIV Singles are two of many.

Going out with someone who also has an STI might make you feel more comfortable about having an STI and disclosing it. If you have HIV and date someone who’s also positive, that person will have a greater understanding of the virus and the challenges and stigma associated with the illness, as opposed to someone who’s HIV-negative. So, it just makes it a little easier to connect on that level.

The downside of dating someone with an STI when you already have one is risking getting another STI or a stronger strain of HIV if you don’t practice safe sex.

Having an STI is very common, so no matter who you date or how you protect yourself, there’s a risk of contracting an STI during any intimate activity. Also, your sexual partners might not know they have an STI for the following reasons: they have no symptoms; at their last test, they didn’t consider the three-month window period for HIV; since their last test, they’ve engaged in other risky activities; they falsely believe they’ve never engaged in risky behaviours, and therefore refuse testing; or they believe all their partners were truthful and faithful, all went for STI testing, all tested for every STI, and all tested negative for every STI.

In order to reduce the chances of HIV or STI transmission, it’s best to follow universal precautions and use protection every time you engage in any oral, vaginal, or anal pleasuring. The key to loving someone else is to love yourself first. This means you need to accept and love yourself as you are. And if someone puts you down, verbally abuses you, or shows disrespect to you, don’t tolerate it. Build a fence, and if anyone crosses your boundaries shut the gate and lock it. You’re worthy of a partner who adores you and who doesn’t shame you regardless of your physical and mental health status.

Most of us have to make an effort to meet someone special, and some of us will go through the gauntlet to catch a date with the right guy or girl. So, don’t sit back and expect Cupid to find you if your butt is glued to a couch during the evening. Take a leap, take a hike, take a bike, and get out—or at least get online and take a stab at a Valentine.

Stop HIV and hep C now. To get tested, call the New Westminster Public Health Unit at 604-777-6740 and book an appointment, or contact the Purpose Society for more information.