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Ask Dr. K

I have a language barrier with my partner. (He speaks Spanish and I don’t.) I am HIV-positive and told him so the first night we were together. I am not sure that he understood. We use protection every time and I have an undetectable viral load, but I still want to make sure he knows my status. What is the best way to make sure he understands?

You are asking a lot of good questions. It is great that you know your status and are committed to telling your new partner. This shows that you are taking responsibility for your own actions and are concerned about your partner’s and the community’s health. Disclosing HIV status to new partners (and making sure they understand) is never easy, but there are many benefits. Disclosure can help you negotiate the types of sex that you and your partner are willing to have. Many people say that disclosing helps them feel better about themselves and the sex they are having. On the other hand, many people fear that they will be rejected if they disclose that they are positive.

If you are debating whether to disclose to a new partner, only you can decide what will work. Here are several questions to ask yourself that may help you decide if and when to disclose.
1. Will telling my partner my status make us closer?
2. What kind of reaction do I expect my partner to have?
3. How will I feel if s/he decides not to have sex with me anymore?
4. Will it change the kind of sex that we have together?
5. What questions to do I want to ask my partner about their own status?

Inquire at your local area AIDS Service organization(s) and ask for referrals in Spanish. They might be able to offer help translating the important things that you want to explain.

For a list of San Francisco organizations that may be of assistance go to the City Clinic site and click on “resources for Latino populations.” For more Latino specific information about HIV/AIDS that’s not San Francisco specific, try, and for information specific to couples with different HIV statuses, see this part of

For general information about HIV/AIDS and STDs check out the CDC website in both English and Spanish.

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Thursday, November 19, 2009.
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