Why is it so hard to meet other HIV+ people? I was a member of a dozen HIV dating sites for a year and a half responding to every ad. I had the intention of giving every person an opportunity to establish a relationship but not one single contact resulted in a date. I finally gave up and turned to conventional dating sites with the intention of revealing my status at the point when the relationship when intimacy was inevitable. Within one month I had found a mate but revealing my status to an HIV- woman was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I had a parachute fail on my first jump, I had an engine failure while flying at low altitude but telling her my status was harder than any of these.
Thank god I now have someone who at least shares my secret even though she can never really understand. You have to admire her because even though the risks are small they are real and grave. There are times when eveh she can say cruel and hurtful things but as I said before she can not understand. Her mental state does not remain unaffected and I must always accept that one day she will no longer be able to sholder the risk and I will have to release her. My condition isolates her in the same way it isolates me and she hides my medications when friends or relatives visit.
I soon became aware that being in a relationship with an HIV- woman still left me with a void in fellowship isolated from society at large and having no one with whom I could discuss HIV issues with. I embarked on a search for HIV+ friends but my search is now into it's ninth year with dismal results. In over eight years of searching I have met only one HIV+ person face to face and had to travel 500 miles to meet her. All we did was talk for several hours and share a meal but the experience was an awakening. I never realized how heavy the mask we wear to ward off the stigma was until I was able to take it off. I hardened myself for the fight ahead and doubled my efforts for the last two years without result.
I have been told that I am going to hell, told I deserve this disease, I have been lied to stood up at simple meetings for coffee, people have tried to scam me for money and all of this from other HIV+ people! Are we really that flakey? Most of us hide our status from our co workers, our old friends and even our family but are we so spineless that we even hide from each other? Are we hiding so deep that we are exposing the uninfected in society at large to risks without their knowledge? Shame on us!
In the past I have found that many uninfected individuals who join groups like AIDS Walk were not even willing to talk to someone actually affected by the disease. They joined merely to make themselves feel good but that has been changing over the last few years. My ads for friendship are now almost exclusively answered by uninfected individuals some of whom have been affected indirectly but others are just curious and open. This is nice but only a person who has walked this hard road can provide the kind of fellowship that we really need.
Many HIV+ people are involved in organizations that are primarily focused on providing financial aide to people with HIV and this is good. Others among us have no need for financial help and these groups provide nothing for us. There are focus groups but they are primarily geared to the unique needs within the gay community and tend to further isolate heterosexual men interestesd in simple fellowship. Has the chatter of texts and social media destroyed our ability to communicate deep feelings? Has real friendship deterriorated to the point where it is simply the number of contacts in a friends list? Stand up! Be real! Have some backbone!