I know I’ve already talked about disclosure but I wanted to share something that happened to me the other week.
People living with HIV are constantly disclosing to others. Whether its family we know and love, work associates, doctors, old and new friends or potential partners. We end up telling, repeating and answering the same questions over and again. I know I don’t have to tell any of these people about my status. Legally I’m under no obligation to tell anyone. But I’m not that type of person; I tend to over share about most things, HIV being no exception. I generally don’t mind people knowing my status. Maybe that’s because I’ve come across no negativity from disclosing.
Anyway, back to the original story. The other week I was meeting some friends for a drink. When I arrived at the pub my friends weren’t there yet. Luckily I bumped into two old work colleagues, both of whom were quite drunk. We got talking and the topic of sex and sexual health came up. Here’s a little transcript of what happened.
Colleague A: Colleague B doesn’t mind that I have HIV he still loves me. Giving colleague B a kiss on the cheek.
Colleague A and B: (Laughter)
Colleague B: I’m going to the Bar.
Me: (to colleague A) What did you say?
Colleague A: Me, yeah
Me: You’re HIV positive?
Colleague A: Yeah.
Me: I’m also HIV positive
Colleague A: What, really?
Colleague A: Oh sorry, I was just bullshitting.
Colleague B came back from the bar and Colleague A proceeded to tell him what we were talking about. I didn’t know how to feel. In the space of 5 minutes I had gone from having a good time to feeling sick. Why did I feel sick? It was because I had stupidly put my trust in someone because I believed we shared something, I was mistaken.
During what was only a 25 minute chat Colleague A also told me that during my time at the school he had heard from a different colleague that I was talking about him behind his back and that I had spread a nasty rumour about him (I know, we all work in a school and it seems that most of the staff are still behaving like children). This was all untrue. I told him so, but I could tell he didn’t believe me. I’m not the sort of person to beg and grovel for his approval. I simply said that I hated that that was what he had heard, but I never said such things. I generally want people to like me too much to say bad things about them!
So now I had two people who knew about my status, one who I no longer trusted because he lied and one who believed me to be a horrid rumour spreading gossip. All because I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut. My friends arrived and we left for somewhere else soon after. The sickness stayed with me and I went home early. I was no longer in the mood to be out and dancing.
How will this affect me? I think mostly it won’t. However my mind still wonders back to it. Had they heard a rumour about me and wanted to find out, by bringing up the topic of sexual health? I had told a few people at my work after all.
Colleague B and ‘The Front Man’ have mutual friends. Would he tell him about me out of spite because of what he believed I said about him? I hope not but you never know what can slip out (deliberately or not) when drunk. He may believe that I had told the front man because I’d slept with him already and think its ok to talk to him about. In that short time I had also discovered that both of my former colleagues’ HIV knowledge was woefully out-dated. If front man is to find out about my HIV I don’t want it to be from a guy he barely knows.
I worry that it’s being talked about at my old school, that I’m being discussed negatively. All of this time spent thinking about it and the endless speculations could’ve all been simply avoided if I kept my mouth shut.
The lesson that I have learnt from this is to think a bit more before disclosing. I have said many times that I don’t care who knows about my status but it turns out that I do. I used to think that I have nothing to hide about it. But realistically I do, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m not hiding something that is going to cause any pain or trouble to anyone if they don’t know. I continue to take my medication every day, I am undetectable so I know I am not putting anyone at risk. So I have no need to tell anyone other than those I want to because I think it will help me, or help them. Not because of a silly need to connect with someone in a bar.
~If you have any questions about this post or any post I’ve written please don’t hesitate to comment and ask.