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Dating Someone with HIV

Updated on October 19, 2016
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy writes about health, medicine and other topics. She has published hundreds of articles online, and in magazines and newspapers.


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People With HIV Can Date and Have Normal Lives

You've met just the right person, and you think this might be the one. He or she enjoys the same things you do, you get along great, you 'click' in every way, and it looks like there's a future in store. But then you find out this great person is infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. In common terms, they are "HIV Positive."

What kind of dating life can you have?

Dating and falling in love is one of the most normal of human behaviors, and for the most part, it's no different for someone with HIV. With some education on both sides, a lot of acceptance and loving understanding, you can indeed have a happy dating relationship with a man or woman who is HIV positive, and you can even marry and have a future.

Yes, you can have a fun and fulfilling dating life!

People with HIV go to the movies, dance, swim, take vacations, shop for groceries, work, go to college, and yes, date, fall in love and get married.

Here are some things you should consider if you've met someone with HIV and you want to date and build a relationship.

It's Important to Discuss Health Issues and HIV When You Date and Become Intimate

The first rule, one you should have explored by now, is to always know for certain the health status of those you date. Many diseases (some of them, such as HIV, considered life-threatening), are transmitted through intimate contact. Unfortunately, many of those who have HIV or other conditions may not know about it.

Naturally, you can ask about someone's status, but unless they've been tested recently (and even then, the results don't always show up if a person is newly infected), they may think they aren't infected, but still have the virus. And, some people don't disclose things honestly. Although there are some lifestyles and situations that might suggest your partner may be at risk of having HIV, it's important to know if they've been exposed to the virus.

If you're in a relationship that's headed for intimacy, do yourselves a mutual favor and get tested together, with an agreement that you'll disclose the information to each other. Testing can be done in a matter of minutes at many health departments (unlike years ago, when it took a few weeks to get results); the tests are usually free, and you can put this issue to rest one way or the other. In some cases, you will need to consent for the test results to be reported to the local health department (especially if you want immediate results). However, confidential testing is still available in some facilities. In either case, you should be permitted to invite your partner to be there when the results are given.

What to Do if Your Mate is HIV Positive

First, determine if the person you're involved with is getting the proper treatment for HIV. With recent drug therapy, the viral load can be greatly reduced (even to the level considered 'undetectable,') and this not only helps protect the partner, but it keeps the person who has the virus in better health.

If your new romantic interest is lax about following his or her treatment plan, this can create problems for both of you. The person who is infected can deteriorate more easily, and the partner is at a higher risk of becoming infected (although protection should be used at all times). There's also an increase in stress if you're continually worried that the person you love isn't properly caring for himself or herself.

Use Protection!

It goes without saying that you should always use condoms during intimacy. But we'll say it here anyway. Use protection! The best way to protect yourself, aside from abstinence, is by using condoms at all times.

How to Avoid Catching HIV

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has excellent information on how HIV is transmitted, as well as answers to frequently asked questions.

Transmission is generally done through body fluids such as:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Breast milk
  • Other body fluids that contain blood

Avoid contact with these types of body fluids when you are involved with an HIV partner. Women who are infected with HIV should not breastfeed, since the infant can be exposed through the mother's milk.

What about kissing?

Closed-mouth kissing does not present a risk, but deep kissing (French kissing) can cause exposure if your partner's gums are infected or bleeding. The risk is remote, but it is recommended that you avoid this type of deep kissing if your partner has HIV.

What about hugging, holding hands, normal skin contact and using the same toilet seat?

Daily contact such as this does not transmit HIV. The CDC site above gives additional details on daily life and living with someone who has HIV, and it is recommended that those in the same household become fully educated on infection control.

Same-sex transmission:

If you and your partner are both male, always use condoms when you have intimacy, and follow other guidelines (such as those listed below) for other types of contact, such as kissing and other exposures.

Can men catch it from women?

Yes, in addition to the risk of infection through contact with blood (during a menstrual period, for example), vaginal fluid can carry the virus and can infect male partners through the urethra opening or through any small cuts or abrasions that might be on the penis. According to the most recent data posted by the CDC, about 24% of those infected with HIV are women. The ratio is disproportionately higher for Black and Latina women, however, compared to women of other races or ethnic groups.

To avoid infection, use condoms when having vaginal sex, regardless of which partner is infected with HIV.

What About Marriage and Pregnancy?

Marriage?

Marriage with an HIV partner is indeed possible, and there are many happy couples who live with this condition in one or both partners. As mentioned above, it is important to fully understand infection control and to be compliant with treatment plans.

There have been many advances in HIV medicine in the past 20-plus years. Although the safest thing for everyone concerned is to always have protected sex, and perhaps the best or safest choice is to avoid pregnancy, sometimes an HIV infected woman becomes pregnant, and understandably, some couples where the man has HIV want to explore having children. The three-part video on this hub shows an HIV man and his wife who have dealt with the infection during their entire marriage and have had children together.

Consult your doctor!

Before jumping into parenthood, discuss your thoughts and desires with your doctor. He or she knows your partner's medical condition and can advise you of the options. Some options might not be appropriate for a given situation, so it's important to have your situation evaluated individually.

Pregnancy?

What if you want to have a baby someday? It's not out of the question for a couple dealing with HIV to have children; here are some things to know if you are in a relationship with someone who has HIV and you want to start a family.

When the woman has HIV: The risk to an unborn fetus is greatly reduced if an HIV infected woman is on proper antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. If an unplanned pregnancy occurs, consult with your doctor about the proper treatment and choices to protect the safety of the baby as well as the mother.

If your female partner has HIV and the two of you want to conceive, consult the doctor ahead of time about the status of her virus, the appropriateness of this choice and the option of using artificial insemination to impregnate her. The sperm can be harvested from the male partner (or a donor) and transferred to the woman with no risk to the male partner.

When the man has HIV: A process called sperm washing can be used to protect the woman who receives sperm from a male donor. The process separates sperm cells from the fluid it is carried in (semen) and the cells are tested for HIV before being implanted in the woman or used to fertilize an egg, which is later implanted. This process can be very expensive and is not widely available.

When both have HIV: There can be a risk (small, but still a risk) of the two partners somehow creating a new or different strain of HIV if they engage in unprotected sex. This would, of course, subject the fetus to the infection and current therapies may not be effective. It is not recommended for two partners with HIV to have frequent, unprotected sex.

What about AIDS?

Not all individuals who have HIV have AIDS. Your doctor (or your partner's doctor) can explain what happens when HIV transitions to the AIDS level. Generally, an HIV patient is considered to have AIDS when an opportunistic infection occurs (one that would normally not affect someone whose immune system is not compromised), or when the CD4 count (the cells that help fight infections) goes below 200. This article is not about AIDS and is not intended to provide medical information or a diagnosis.

What about you?

Would you consider dating someone who has HIV?

See results

Things to Know About HIV

Because HIV still has no cure, if you enter into a long-term relationship with somebody who has this condition, you should understand that there may be health issues in the future. In recent years, HIV is not quite considered the death sentence it once was, but it is still a disease that can shorten life and in its advanced stages, it can change the quality of life or mobility of someone who has it. So, however, can many other diseases. We are all human and we are all vulnerable to illnesses. Your partner with HIV is no different from the rest of the world in that regard.

Copyright 2012 by Marcy Goodfleisch, MA; Ms. Goodfleisch is the former clinic administrator of the David Powell HIV Clinic in Austin Texas and, as the non-scientific member of an Independent Ethics Review Board (IRB) has reviewed and approved research studies in HIV patients.

This article is intended for information only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a specific condition.

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  • Heather Cartman 11 months ago

    This hub is very informative! I have some friends who are HIV positive and they are living normal and healthier that those HIV negative. I'm looking forward for a cure on this disease. Hopefully it will be that soon!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, KAYEVE - thanks for your post here, and for sharing this. It sounds like you've had to process a lot of information in the past few days. I will keep you and your baby in my prayers. I'm sure your medical team has already started helping you find appropriate pre-natal care; ask them to refer you to a clinic in your area that specializes in 'high-risk pregnancies' (don't let that term scare you; it just means they know how to handle pregnancies that fall outside of the norm). You will find caring, supportive people, and they can assess your own situation and what options are best for you and the baby.

    If you having read it yet, check out the article I wrote on HIV and pregnancy (it discusses whether there's a risk of miscarriage, but it has some good, basic information and links about being pregnant when you have HIV). Please let me know how things go for you? I'm sending you prayers and hugs.

  • KAYEVE 3 years ago

    THANKS FOR SUCH A WONDERFUL POST...I JUST FOUND OUT 3DAYS AGO THAT IAM HIV POSITIVE AND I AM 8 WEEKS PREGNANT HOWEVER I WANT TO KEEP THE BABY

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, nhonhie - I am so glad you read this and learned that you can indeed plan a future with your fiancé! The story of the couple in the three videos is so heartwarming - I know the path ahead will be challenging at times, but it's wonderful to see some ways to manage the health condition as well as risks to partners. Best of luck to you, and my prayers are with you!

  • nhonhie 3 years ago

    We recently discovered that my fiancée is HIV positive. but i love him to bits and cannot imagine how my life would be without him. Thank you for the information. I now know that my decision to continue with the relationship really is worth it.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

    Special note to 'Joy,' - thanks for reading and commenting. I admire your journey. Unfortunately, site guidelines do not permit us to approve comments that are promotional and include links such as you've added to yours. Thanks for understanding.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Misty - I appreciate your comment here - I feel the same way. Interestingly, the poll results on this hub show that many people are open to dating someone with this condition. Once they understand it is manageable, and that you can have a future and a family, people begin to feel differently.

  • misty 3 years ago

    thank you for this information i hope it changes the stigmatism associated with the disease.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Scott - HIV is definitely a manageable condition in our era, thankfully. I just hope we soon see the day where it is not considered an evil thing to have, and people are not ostracized because of it.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks so much for your kind feedback, Steg! It means a lot to me when someone not familiar with the condition feels they've learned from the hub!

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    Spunk Nellie 4 years ago from New York, NY

    This is an awesome Hub. Honestly, I don't have HIV nor do I know anyone that does (to my knowledge) but this article fascinated me all the same. Bravo!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Vicky - thanks for reading and commenting. Every year, there's more and more progress in helping people live normal lives with this condition.

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    Victoria Postlewait 4 years ago from Orlando, Florida

    very interesting and well researched!!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thank you so much, Kimberly; I appreciate your kind words! It's heartwarming to know how learning about the facts makes a difference in the way people feel about this condition.

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    Kimberly Vaughn 4 years ago from Midwest

    Very interesting hub! It contains great information that I had never thought about before. Voted up!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Iguidenetwork - thank you for reading and for your kind comments. I agree - everyone deserves love, and it speaks well of those who are able to accept others who live with challenges and share their life with them.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks, NornsMercy, for your thoughtful comments here. I truly hope the stigma over HIV fades in coming years and people realize it can affect anyone.

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    iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

    Great hub.. you've written it professionally, thoughtfully, and without any hint of prejudice. Yes, persons afflicted with HIV also deserve love not just from a lot of people... but from someone special as well, who accepts him/her wholeheartedly. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and awesome.

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    Chace 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

    I don't think it would be appropriate to bash such a wonderful and informative hub. People look down on those with HIV but tons of people have unsafe sex everyday--they're just dodging bullets while others have been hit.

    Thanks for writing this! Voted up and more. :)

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thank you, Sharyn! I'm so gratified by the positive comments here - I confess I worried about bashing, but the overwhelming supportive attitudes here have been heartening. I strongly believe this is one of many topics that people need to understand and, I hope, learn not to judge. Thanks for your sweet comments!

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    Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

    Hi Marcy ~ you should be extremely proud this work. It is extremely well researched and professional. Your voice here will no doubt help so many people understand the truth about HIV and diminish many of the unnecessary fears. VERY WELL DONE!

    Sharyn

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    Nare Gevorgyan 4 years ago

    Exactly!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Nare - I appreciate your comments. Wouldn't it be great if people opened their hearts and minds to learn more about this subject?

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    Nare Gevorgyan 4 years ago

    Great job Marcy. This is really really informative. I had learnt much about HIV before too and I am glad you reminded. Many people will find this useful and even change their opinions. Congrats!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, jasmith - thanks so much for your kind comments. I agree; we need an informed world that will allow everyone to have a fulfilling life. Thanks for stopping by!

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    Adrian Smith 4 years ago from UK

    Very informative hub - it is good to put the facts out there for people to raise awareness and understanding.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks, Huntingintime!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Prasetio - you make a good point about people avoiding what they don't understand. Thanks for reading and commenting here.

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    huntingintime 4 years ago from Kent,Washington

    Great Writing!

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    prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

    Very informative hub. I know that most of people will avoid with someone who infected with HIV, moreover dating with them. We should give them support. I learn many things here, including the video. Rated up and useful!

    Prasetio

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for reading and commenting, J.S.Matthew - your comment reminds me of one of the saddest patients I saw while working at the clinic. A beautiful, young 17-year-old girl had discovered she was infected through a boyfriend. We had to make an exception to our age limit (we normally didn't take minors) because she was clearly a young adult, and needed our services rather than those of a pediatrics HIV/AIDS practice. I hope she was able to find a partner who understood her condition and accepted her for the beautiful young woman she was.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Nell - thanks so much for commenting here. I agree, this disease and its related issues were on the front burner only a few years ago, and sadly, many young people think it is no longer a concern. Many thanks for sharing!

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    JS Matthew 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    This is very well researched and written Marcy! It's weird because yesterday I was watching a documentary about a young girl who became infected with HIV after shooting just one adult movie. She found out 2 days after the shooting that one of the cast members was infected. A few weeks later she tested positive. What is strange is that I grew up in the 80's and 90's and I remember all the media hype about HIV and AIDS and then all of a sudden you hardly hear about it anymore. Great of you to post such valuable information that can be helpful for people. Voted up and shared!

    JSMatthew~

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    Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

    Hi, Marcy, a very well documented information hub about this sometimes forgotten disease. It's a fact that many people these days totally forget about it, we had some really good information videos back in the 1980s, but these days it seems to have been put on the back burner so to speak, great information and something that everybody should read, especially young people, voted and shared, nell

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks, Kittyjj - I so appreciate your comments! I didn't realize HIV/AIDS awareness was being brought to students that young; what a great thing! It can help prevent disease, and also help mitigate the stigma that still comes with that diagnosis. Thanks so much for sharing this information!

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    Ann Leung 4 years ago from San Jose, California

    Your hub reminded me of the recent HIV/AIDS Positive Prevention program hosted by my 7th grader's school. It really surprised me that schools are taking actions to educate the kids about HIV/AIDS at this early age. And there will be another similar program about HIV/AIDS teachers have to teach in high school.

    Your hub is very informative. I love the way you used subtitles throughout your hub. Voted up and useful.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, alocsin - thanks for sharing your insight. I've known couples as well, and they've learned to adapt well and are able to enjoy happy relationships. Many thanks for your comments!

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    alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

    It's fairly easy to avoid HIV transmission if you take some common-sense precautions. I know couples that have been in relationships for years where one is HIV-positive and the other is negative. A good hub for those in the dating scene. Voting this Up and Useful.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I'm so glad you like the hub, Mmargie! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

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    Mmargie1966 4 years ago from Gainesville, GA

    Wow, Marcy! That was excellent! Thanks for sharing!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks, homesteadbound - it is an emotional topic for so many people. I appreciate your kind comments!

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    Cindy Murdoch 4 years ago from Texas

    This was an interesting and well researched article. You did so well at staying very well grounded on such a sensitive subject!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks, Ruchira - I appreciate your feedback and comments!

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    Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

    informative hub Marcy. This question sure is a debatable one but you nailed it, my friend!

    voted up as interesting!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, fpherj48 - many thanks for your kind comments here!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Jenubouka - I agree with you; I hope for a cure, too - and it is wonderful to see how far progress has come since this first came to our attention. I appreciate your comments!

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    Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Marcy... You have done a well-informed and sensitive article on this subject. No doubt there are many who can understand and appreciate the importance of being knowledgeable and proactive in these cases. UP ++

  • jenubouka 4 years ago

    Great hub Marcy. It is a reality these days and we can not be ignorant about it, nor cease our lives. I think this carries great hope and truths on the matter. I still hope for a true cure for this. I believe it is out there.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Habee - I appreciate your comments here!

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    Holle Abee 4 years ago from Georgia

    I can't really add anything to what Doc said. I've never been in this situation, but your hub has definitely given me some points to ponder. Voted up!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I think some of them still wear those things, adjkp! I can see why they need protection during some procedures, I guess. I'm glad we don't have the terror of those years, but I do think some people have become more complacent than it's appropriate to be at this point. Thanks for your comments!

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    David 4 years ago from Northern California

    I remember how scary HIV was when I was growing up. so many people didn't understand it beyond the fact that it could kill you. I even had a dentist that wore a huge plastic shield during extractions in case blood would splatter, his words. No wonder I wouldn't open my mouth when I was eight.

    Great information.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks so much, TahoeDoc - and oh gosh, I remember those days; I'd forgotten the stories about bleach. How fortunate we are that medicine has progressed to where it is now. There's still no cure for diabetes, but people live with it, and perhaps the world will one day consider HIV in the same manner.

    Many thanks for reading and commenting!

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    TahoeDoc 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe, California

    Great job! Factual, informative, easy to read and sensitive to those infected. I remember working with HIV positive patients in the earlier days of HIV/AIDS. For a while, they were really ostracized and treated badly by society. There was so much fear about this disease and so much misinformation about how it was transmitted (hand-shakes were avoided) and how to cure it (I had a patient try to inject bleach IV since bleach could destroy the virus). I'm glad we've come so far and articles like this will help not only those infected, but society in general, to understand these issues.

    Voted up and useful.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks so much, Pamela - in the past 20 years or so, we've seen HIV transition to more of a manageable condition than it was thought of in the early days of its discovery. It's so heartening to know people can live happy lives while they deal with the disease. I truly hope the stigma is mitigated, and at the same time, people exercise common sense and prevent the spread of the disease.

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    Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

    This hub has very useful information and I like the way you explained how to determine how safe you might be based on how the HIV positive individual takes care of themselves. You really put a positive spin on a disease that is still quite frightening to most people. Very informative hub.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks so much, Teaches, for reading and for your supportive comments. The patients I saw at the HIV clinic imaged were the bravest people I've met in my entire life, and they constantly worked to have normal, productive lives.

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    Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

    Your information is a positive outlook on this disease. It will help others to know what they are up against in dating or marriage to someone who has HIV. It is good to see that today there is more hope for someone with this disease than ever before. Voted up.

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks, FutureDrKate! I so appreciate your professional take on this. There are indeed some dating websites for those with HIV, and I think the main thing is for people to realize this condition does not mean it's the end of the world for you or your loved one.

    Thanks for your comments!

  • FutureDrKate 4 years ago

    What a great hub! I've heard of dating websites that allow you to select any STIs you have to find people with the same ones. I love how nonjudgemental you kept the tone. It really humanized this issue. Voted up!

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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks, Alliemacb - I agree with you that it would be great for these decisions to be made in an informed way rather than in a stereotypical and biased vacuum.

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    alliemacb 4 years ago from Scotland

    Interesting hub that is full of useful information. Hopefully it will help people to make informed decisions about dating and remove some of the uncertainty that still surrounds HIV.

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