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Disclosure is never easy—whether it's disclosure about your HIV status, family history, mental illness, sexual orientation, or anything else.But opening up is the only way you can find support from others.There are also other looming difficulties: I know I want kids someday, for example, and that will mean a different set of obstacles, such as conceiving without risking transmission to my partner and decreasing the risk of giving HIV to my child before, during, and after birth. When I first told my mother about my fears of disclosing, one thing she said was that it would take a strong person to be with me. But I've come to realize that I also have to be a strong person to be with someone else.Throughout this relationship, I've learned that this virus is part of who I am, but it doesn't define me.And sometimes, if it's with the right person, that moment of anxiety can lead to a lasting, loving relationship.Christina Rodriguez, 22, is the co-founder of SMART Youth, a non-profit for youth living with or affected by HIV/AIDS that promotes sexual health education and HIV awareness.
In fact, in a study of almost 3,000 monogamous serodiscordant couples, it was found that with the use of antiretroviral therapy, only 3.4 percent of sexually active couples would transmit HIV from the infected to uninfected partner over a period of 100 years.Now I know I don't have to choose between protecting others and loving someone.If it weren't for my amazing friends and family—and countless positive reactions after previous disclosures—I don't think I would have had the courage to disclose in a romantic setting so willingly.I felt so relieved, but I was also still nervous: I had gotten past the hard part, but I didn't know what to expect next.At this point, my boyfriend and I have been dating for two and a half years.