Would you tell a roommate if you were HIV+?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Principessa

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    Roommates and H.I.V.
    By RANDY COHEN




    For this question you are not romantically involved. You are just sharing an apartment or house to save on living expenses. Would you tell a roommate if you were HIV+? Would you expect an HIV+ roommate to inform you of his/her status? :confused:
     
  2. Bbucko

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    The only reason to disclose is because you feel you'll need some support not strictly part of the standard roommate living arrangements.

    There is no risk whatsoever from environmental issues. Infection takes place inside the body, not out. A platonic roommate would have no reason to know, necessarily.

    I disclose to everyone, because I personally believe that the best way to overcome stigma is by being as straight-forward as possible. But I leave it strictly up to the person who is positive to decide when and if s/he chooses to disclose.
     
  3. ManlyBanisters

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    If I ever had a room-mate who was HIV+ I never knew it - The only reason that a person not telling me in that situation would bother me is, assuming we were friends as well as roomies, I'd feel like I was being a bad friend that they hadn't wanted to tell me from the emotional support pov Bbucko mentions. From an environmental pov I would not feel the need to know.

    Slightly different situation but I do recall that at my old martial arts club we decided on a 'self clean up' policy - if there was ever an injury that bled, rare but possible, the injured person would tend to themselves and clean up any spilled blood. That way no one ever had to feel the need to disclose HIV status to anyone else in the club. It was a good policy. Other clubs were requiring disclosure to instructors and insurance companies, which I think was just plain wrong.
     
  4. SpeedoMike

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    I would consider it far more important to make my bi-polar disorder known than my HiV status.
     
  5. Principessa

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    Ya know, I was thinking that diabetes, epilepsy or a mental health issue might be more pressing for roomies to know about.

    Though I do see MB's point about feeling like a bad friend that they couldn't trust me with that information.
     
  6. Bbucko

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    There are actually some compelling reasons why not disclosing could be a better policy:

    1) Some people make everything about themselves. I have frequently found myself comforting people over my status or occasional hiccups in my health. This is really counter-productive to getting and staying well. There are some members of my family I've decided specifically to not know, because i don't want to become their "personal tragedy".

    2) People on the periphery wind up getting involved. Roommates tell their friends and family, who may not be as educated about risks or who have unfounded, irrational fears. A lot of people have a "hidden" stigma regarding HIV, and having to confront these feelings can put unneeded stress on friendships and relationships like roommates.

    3) You wind up doing a lot of explaining. Some things we live with become customary after a while but can freak other people out. Medication time (at one point I was taking over forty pills a day) is an excellent example of this. Sudden fatigue and disorientation is another one: it's not necessarily a sign that I'm failing just because I sometimes get brainfog or need to lay down now and then. When you're poz, especially a long-time survivor, shit happens. If someone is not up to speed of real risk or concerned about non-issues, the learning curve can be even steeper.

    Others will follow as they occur to me...
     
  7. ManlyBanisters

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    I totally understand that B, and agree. I was just trying to say that I'd feel like a bad friend if my friend felt I was unable to support him/her on his/her own terms. The failing would be mine, though, not his/hers.

    But yeah, you are, of course, right - choice on disclosure is totally the property of the person disclosing. Dealing with the condition must be tough enough without having to educate and babysit everyone you know through it.
     
  8. dolfette

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    i would prefer to be told.
    odd accidents happen...she stands on a chair to change a bulb, falls, hits her head, is out cold and bleeding? unless i knew, my first reaction would be first aid, not find gloves.
     
  9. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    It would probably make accidental issues easier to handle, by not putting myself at risk, but other than that, I don't see the need.
     
  10. Bbucko

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    What kind of risk includes getting blood, semen or cervical fluid inside your vagina, anus or into the socket of a just-pulled tooth, especially without being exposed to the air?

    I really don't understand how gloves would protect you from getting blood into your vagina, anus or (maybe, possibly, theoretically) an eye.

    Infection of HIV occurs through what are called Langerhans' cells that are located only inside the body.
     
  11. dolfette

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    well i wasn't planning on stemming the bleeding with my vag.

    but, genius, if i had any sort of open sore on my hand...?
     
  12. D_Jared Padalicki

    D_Jared Padalicki Account Disabled

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    If I wouldn't have sex with them, and I'm still healthy and it is just a roommate, no I won't tell then.
     
  13. Bbucko

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    Cuts which are not actively bleeding are scabbed, and are therefore are not areas for possible transmission of HIV. If you had a major cut (like a knife slice or from broken glass) that wasn't covered with a bandage and was still an open, bleeding wound, then there is a slight risk if the person's viral load (parts of virus per ml of blood) were high (say, over 10,000, but even that's kinda low).

    Antiretroviral medications do one thing really well, and that's control viral load, allowing CD4 cells to rebound and begin to help rebuild one's immune system. Current standards of care for anyone diagnosed HIV+ includes blood-panel screenings every 3-4 months and for medication to begin if CD4 go below 300 (there are discussions to change this to 400) and/or if the viral load shows robust growth. IRL, this means that medications are being used for practically every HIV+ individual in the US. There are federal programs called ADAPs (AIDS Drug Assistance Programs) available to all states and seven territories (Guam, USVI, PR, etc).

    If someone's comfortable enough to have disclosed his/her status, s/he is (very most likely) in treatment.

    If anyone is uncomfortable with the concept of the possibility of theoretical risk, I'd suggest s/he finds a different roommate.
     
  14. dolfette

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    i frequently cut myself when cooking.
    usually backs of finger joints, which reopen under any type of pressure.

    neither myself or think kink made any dramatic demands. we didn't cry 'eeew! cooties!' we expressed a preference for open honesty.
    you seriously have an issue with that? or just an issue?

    i would also like to think they'd mention diabetes, epilepsy or any other problems that it might help for me to be aware of.
     
    #14 dolfette, Apr 20, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  15. Bbucko

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    I've been a peer-support/risk assessment/hotline volunteer for HIV information since 1984. I've done this in person, over the phone and online, and have been trained in combing out emotionalist supposition from scientific probability from almost the very beginning of the epidemic. I don't have "issues" except when a fear is not fact-based and presented as a plausable transmission scenario.

    FWIW, I have similar issues with oral sex, but that's an entirely different topic.

    I do not have an issue with people assessing their own level of acceptable risk and taking precautions s/he deems appropriate, even when they are medically unnecessary. Just say "no, my imagination won't allow me to be comfortable sharing my home with someone who lives with a blood-borne virus" and move on. In the long run, you're doing both yourself and the HIV+ person a big favor by declining further involvement.

    But walking around in your daily life with hands that are constantly bleeding must be torture. I don't know how you do it.
     
  16. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    IV drug use... just saying ;)

    I didn't know it was just through those places. I don't know very much about HIV.
     
  17. Bbucko

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    That would very much be a concern. It's funny, my mind didn't even go there. Thank you for correcting me.

    If you want to learn more about HIV and how it's spread, you can visit the lessons at AIDSmeds.com/POZ.com under the "All About HIV" tab. It's the most science-based, non-political, non-emotional place to get information. If you would like to address specific questions to the experts, you can go to the Am I Infected? forum.

    AIDSmap is from the UK and also very good. Personally I don't think that TheBody.com is all that hot if you're just starting out; they have distinct biases and a POV that I don't share, and I believe that it colors the quality of their information, especially in their forum. I'd suggest you wait before consulting the CDC or NIH websites for about six months to a year: there's a lot of old information and other things of dubious merit (abstinence only preventative measures, for instance) that will take a while to purge. The new administration, starting from the top down, is the most aware and HIV-savvy people ever in their positions. I expect better days ahead.
     
  18. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    It's not by way of doing that I thought of that. It's just I smoke some dope with my room mate occasionally, take some pills, snort some stuff. I draw the line at IV use, lots of people don't.
     
  19. killerb

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    I would tell...and I would want to know if my roommate was HIV+...
    if there was an emergency or anything, I think that information might be important...example: I have a friend who is allergic to penicillin...the occasion might never come up when anyone needs to know it, but just in case he ever needs medical attention while I'm around, I can inform the medics of his status...
     
  20. Bbucko

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    I was the same way when I was younger. Needles have always given me the willies. But does make total sense. IV drug users share kits all the time.
     
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