He took the blue pill...
September 30, 2007 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Is there a doctor in the house? Is the medication Trizivir used for ANYTHING other than to treat HIV?

I'm a gay man who has been in a relationship for 5 months now. My partner and I were both tested for HIV, we were both negative. I never actually saw him take the test. We haven't been using protection ever since. For what it's worth we're both 'versatile', top and bottom.

Today I discovered some blue pills in his bathroom stamped 'GX LL1'. I know he takes at least one every day. He always said he takes them for joint pain, but google shows that it is for the treatment for HIV. I'd never actually seen them up close until today, and I decided to research it since he said it always gives him a little bit of nausea.

Before I totally lose my shit, can trizivir be prescribed for anything other than HIV treatment? I am going to go get tested tomorrow before I confront him.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (61 answers total) 113 users marked this as a favorite
There's the off-chance that he was exposed to HIV and someone prescribed him this, off-label, as post-exposure prophylaxis.

I doubt it. I think by far the most likely reason that someone would be taking Trizivir is that they're HIV-positive. That would mean you'd been lied to.

The other possibility is that he'd obtained some Trizivir by illegal means and was taking it in the hope that it would prevent him from contracting HIV, or for some other bizarre reason. There's no evidence that this would actually work and this would be a bizarre thing to do.

No doctor would ever give Trizivir for joint pain. That's a lie for sure. I'm sorry to be the one to confirm what you probably already realize.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:29 PM on September 30, 2007

I just called my mom who is a pharmacist (in both NY and NJ). She said Trizivir is ONLY prescribed for the treatment of HIV.
posted by spec80 at 7:39 PM on September 30, 2007

A quick Google does make it look like he'd be taking it to suppress HIV, and not likely for any other reason.

A couple of things to keep in mind as you go through what can only be a really awful time: first, that regardless of your test tomorrow, because it can take a while for HIV antibodies to show up in your system, it's important to get re-tested at three and six months to confirm that you're HIV-free.

Second, while there is no way for this not to be a stressful time, keep in mind that if he has been taking medication, that could well mean that level of virus in his system is well-controlled, so it is by no means a certainty that even if he does have HIV, he has transmitted it to you.

Also, don't just get an HIV test tomorrow at a clinic. Go to a doctor and get started on a dose of AZT or another drug that can prevent someone who's been exposed to HIV from developing an infection.

I hope that there is a totally innocuous explanation that I haven't come across. You have my sympathy in this.
posted by Dasein at 7:48 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

IANAD - On the bright side (and I realize that this is a very grim bright side give the situation) if his HIV is under control and he has a very low viral load, you likely have been less at risk of catching it. Good luck.
posted by whoaali at 7:50 PM on September 30, 2007

That should have been "prescribed ONLY". Sorry.
posted by spec80 at 7:53 PM on September 30, 2007

Follow-up from the OP:

Please thank everyone for their responses - especially ikkyu2 and spec80. I will update tomorrow when I get the results from the test. I'm more than a little freaked, but most of all I think I'm just heartbroken. Feel free to post my trash email address: hetookbluepill@gmail.com
posted by jessamyn at 8:08 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Trizivir is a combination of three reverse transcriptase inhibitors. What that means is that it is a cocktail of 3 medications all of which deal with preventing a retrovirus from replicating.

That's all they do.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to take a reverse transcriptase inhibitor for anything but stopping a retrovirus (such as HIV) from replicating. Taking it for joint pain would be like taking insulin for a broken arm; it just doesn't have anything to do with the problem.

It sounds really likely that your partner has been lying to you.

If you find out this is the case, I suggest going to the police and having him arrested for reckless endangerment if you are still HIV-negative. If you are HIV positive as a result of his deception, that's quite possibly up to attempted murder. It's been charged before.
posted by Justinian at 8:14 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

(My point being that if you find out that he has been lying to you, it's not just a bad thing to do, it is in fact criminal.)

I hope everything works out for you and there was some other explanation.
posted by Justinian at 8:16 PM on September 30, 2007

For most immediate peace of mind, make sure where ever you go for the test uses rapid HIV tests (not all places do yet). And please be aware that even if the rapid test is positive, that's considered preliminary, and they will most likely want to give you a confirmatory test that will take more like 2 weeks for a result. Do look into post-exposure prophylaxis if you test negative but think you may have had a recent exposure.
I'm sorry that you have to go through this, and hope everything comes out ok for you.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:47 PM on September 30, 2007

It's also worth bearing in mind that it can take several weeks to show a positive test after a person has been infected with HIV.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:51 PM on September 30, 2007

It's probably a bad idea to start taking his medicine, but do go get a prescription for yourself.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:28 PM on September 30, 2007

it's important to get re-tested at three and six months to confirm that you're HIV-free.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of people who have been infected test positive by 6-12 weeks, and with the newer tests most folks who are positive will show up even sooner (more here). It's very rare for antibodies to take 6 months to show. My heart goes out to you; this sounds like a horrible betrayal and you must be in terrible pain. Please do update regularly; I think AskMe threads stay open for 6 months.
posted by mediareport at 9:30 PM on September 30, 2007

Whoa man, that's an awful situation. Good luck.
posted by borkingchikapa at 9:57 PM on September 30, 2007

Even if you hopefuly maintain your status as HIV-negative, your partner can still be charged with either attempted murder or manslaughter for what he's done. See Wikipedia: Criminal transmission of HIV. Different states have different laws about this, so besides dealing with your medical options ASAP, you should talk to an in-state lawyer about your legal options before confronting your partner. The fact that you have a proven negative test in the very recent past may be key.

If, God forbid, his lies have caused you to sero-convert, you will need good legal back-up to sue him for civil damages to cover your future medical expenses, plus pain and emotional suffering. Whether you would want to extend legal options into also notifying your local District Attorney is up to you. However, if your partner would do this to you, someone he has a long-term relationship with and whom he supposedly loves, then there is really nothing to stop him from endangering the lives of other guys, and criminal prosecution may be the only way to stop his recklessness.

I wish you the best of luck. This is truly one of the saddest AskMefi questions I've ever seen.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:24 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Anon, my heart goes out to you. Good luck.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:39 AM on October 1, 2007

I'm so very sorry for the betrayal of love and trust you've suffered. Please do get on a prophylactic regimen as soon as possible. Call a lawyer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:49 AM on October 1, 2007

i have nothing constructive to add, but i'm so sorry to hear this story. i am surprised in this day and age that people would still behave this way. please do everything you can to protect yourself now, as well as taking any necessary steps to get your head and heart ready for the roller coaster to come.

i would be tempted to take a sharpie to the bathroom of every bar you hang out at and write "XX lies about his HIV" in every stall. that might be considered vengeful and unproductive by some, however.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:26 AM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you do end up testing positive, this is a good place to start learning about how to deal with that (the diagnosis, not the betrayal):

Just Diagnosed with HIV

Regardless of your diagnosis, you may want to talk to some people at a local AIDS Service Organization. They have probably seen this situation before and could direct you to a counsellor or information about relevant laws.

I'm so, so sorry.
posted by heatherann at 5:19 AM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can't stop checking this thread hoping someone will come on and say "Ha ha, false alarm, the pill was something else! Everything's okay!" I've been thinking about it all night. It's just such a horrible thing to hear, and so incredibly unfair for you. I'm thinking good thoughts in your direction, anon.
posted by crinklebat at 7:09 AM on October 1, 2007 [7 favorites]

No good advice here, but I am so sorry about your situation, and hope that you are okay.
posted by sperare at 7:39 AM on October 1, 2007

I wish I had some advice for you. I'm sorry, Anon, and I hope you'll get through this okay.
posted by cmyk at 7:46 AM on October 1, 2007

I've got no advice either, but you're in my thoughts. I hope you're safe.
posted by lilac girl at 8:24 AM on October 1, 2007

This is just awful. I don't know you, anon, but you'll be in my thoughts. Please, please, keep us posted and let us know if there's anything we can do to help.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:36 AM on October 1, 2007

Quick clarification - AskMe threads stay open for a year, not six months. (And the poster has an email address, for those who just want to express condolences and kind thoughts: hetookbluepill@gmail.com.)
posted by mediareport at 8:46 AM on October 1, 2007

follow-up from the OP:

I can't get tested today because the clinic I wanted to go to for anonymous testing only tests on Tuesday-Thursday. I have to leave town for three days on business so I have no choice but to wait until I get back. Please thank everyone again for me - the support has been truly overwhelming.

There's been some advice posted that I should hold off on confronting my partner until I have my head in order, and I think that's wise advice indeed. I want things to work out, but even though I'm 'probably' negative, I know in my head the right thing to do is just walk away from this guy. It's my heart that seems to be getting in the way.
posted by jessamyn at 5:45 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you can handle sticking yourself with a needle this might be a good option.
posted by whoaali at 12:57 PM on October 2, 2007

OP - sorry you have to deal with the delay in getting the information. When you get tested, you may want to ask if they offer "disclosure counseling" or "partner notification assistance". That will essentially be someone who can help you talk through HOW to talk to your partner about it. If they offer that kind of service, it may be worth getting some time with the counselor even with a negative result, as they are trained in helping people talk through the sometimes complicated aspects of this whole mess.

That's with the caveat that such services exist in California, where I know something about the training that people go through, and may not exist or be very helpful elsewhere.

I really hope that this works out for you.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:29 PM on October 2, 2007

OP my sympathies are with you. I know you really love your partner, but I nth consulting a counselor from a criminal perspective. What your partner has done is a crime and you need to understand the implications of that before you talk with him.

Also, you need to understand and protect your own rights, especially, if (god forbid) you end up testing positive. Please be careful in broaching this with your partner and please take great care to protect yourself.

My thoughts are with you.
posted by zia at 7:11 AM on October 3, 2007

Thinking of you with loving wishes and sending a cyber hug.

The Betrayal Bond, Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships, by Patrick J. Carnes

Strengthening the Weakened Immune System
posted by nickyskye at 11:17 PM on October 3, 2007

Follow-up from the OP

I'm negative. Please thank everyone again for their support, information and understanding.

I've checked with a lawyer at the clinic I went to... in my particular state knowingly putting someone at risk of exposure to HIV is a misdemeanor. I don't think I'll prosecute because I can't see what benefit it would be to anyone - other than possibly stopping him from putting anyone else through the hell he's put me through. I say I don't think I will because really the hell I've been through has been more about the emotional pain of betrayal and being lied to about something so fundamental in a relationship - not really so much about someone breaking the law. Maybe my opinion would be different if the results had been positive... I don't know.

I do know that now I have to figure out in my own head what I'm going to do next. I love him, so do I confront and leave, or do I confront and try to find a way to make it work is what I'm gonna have to ask myself (and him). I know people can carry on in these types of relationship if they're safe - but the emotional baggage of being lied to may be to much.

Thank you and everyone on AskMe again, a thousand times over. I truly love this community.
posted by jessamyn at 12:15 PM on October 4, 2007 [10 favorites]

I know people can carry on in these types of relationship if they're safe...

Sure, you can protect yourself from contracting a deadly disease, but your bf has already proven that he is not interested in protecting himself (and especially not you) from a destructive, abusive relationship.

If you are not going to pursue legal action for his crime, at the very least leave him, and send the message loud and clear that his treatment is not an acceptable, normal and humane way to interact with people in the world. Especially not you.

You deserve SO much better.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:05 PM on October 4, 2007 [3 favorites]

"I don't think I'll prosecute because I can't see what benefit it would be to anyone - other than possibly stopping him from putting anyone else through the hell he's put me through."

No, it's about possibly stopping him from GIVING SOMEONE A DEATH SENTENCE, something he's already shown he's more than willing to risk, as long as he can get his rocks off in the process.

Bluntly, is that something you want on your conscience?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:10 PM on October 4, 2007 [3 favorites]

I'm so happy that you are okay.

I don't really know what to say about you not taking action. The gay community has come so far and accomplished so much in terms of diminishing the spread of HIV and AIDS. A lot of people have died. Some of them because of selfish actions similar to that of your boyfriend. While you are completely entitled to live your own life, I feel you have a responsibility to the people that have fought and died before you. The people that sacrificed and suffered so you can live as free, educated and safe as you do today.
posted by spec80 at 2:15 PM on October 4, 2007

The OP states that the state he lives in would only treat it as a misdemeanor, and that he's getting this information from a lawyer at the clinic he went to.

A misdemeanor? That's like getting a traffic ticket, and it solves nothing. If his seeking some legal action would have a more profound affect I'd say go for it, but it looks like the laws in his area have no real bite when it comes to such things.

That as it is, if he loves the guy - and I mean TRULY loves the guy - who am I to say if he should or shouldn't try to make it work?

I wish you the best of luck anon, and hope that now all the cards are out on the table in your relationship. If you two are going to continue things, maybe you two can start building trust from the ground up. If not, then you need to make the decision to walk away and DON'T LOOK BACK.
posted by matty at 3:15 PM on October 4, 2007

If he was capable of caring about you, at all, he would have used protection.

I'm so glad you didn't get murdered.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:40 PM on October 4, 2007 [4 favorites]

Thank goodness you are OK. Now go and DTMFA, as Dan Savage would say.
posted by LarryC at 5:49 PM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

Dude, I'm so relieved for you. Please take steps to make sure this guy doesn't pull this on anyone in the future (whatever those steps may be).
posted by roger ackroyd at 5:51 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, just make sure you get a test at six months.

I remember last year when I was a freshman in high school, I was delighted that my roommate was also gay. I never even touched another guy (outside playing doctor when I was young) and was very anxious. We didn't have any protection.

Fast-forward through some very bad sex, I was extremely worried the I had HIV. All the worry ate at my mind. Couple that with homesickness, and the fact that was roommate was extremely weird and very socially impaired, I would cry myself to sleep at night. I had no friends because my roommate demanded to have our dorm room door closed and he wouldn't eat in the dining hall. His weirdness made me play mind games with myself. I started to believe he was lying when he said he had an HIV test; he probably did; he was the type of person to not give a fuck about anyone else and would probably infect others if he knew he had it just to get back to the world.

I was also shy too, and I saw my college had free testing. I came up with the courage to go and made an appointment, and got the test results in two weeks. Negative...

I was so happy, until I read online that the signs can take up to six months to form. This psychologically damaged me. The psychological pain became great again, even though I was becoming more outgoing. It would always be at the back of my mind.

During mid-spring around six months, I developed stiff necks, every single day. This scared me as swollen lymph nodes was a sign of infection. It was very abnormal. I tried to go to a walk in clinic a few times, but twice they were closed and once this were "not accepting patients for that day" after I called ahead. I finally made an appointment for another clinic. The test took 20 minutes and came back negative. The stiff necks went away and I was back to my old self.

I'm not trying to scare you, as I was misinformed by the internet that the risk of being positive is as great at six months than it is at getting the test at a few weeks, but I just wanna share my story.

I don't know how the hell I got a 3.9 GPA that semester.
posted by daninnj at 6:00 PM on October 4, 2007

freshman in college, not high school, damnit
posted by daninnj at 6:00 PM on October 4, 2007

How awful. Let us know what happens when you confront your partner and we'll be here with more support.
posted by desuetude at 6:04 PM on October 4, 2007

"other than possibly stopping him from putting anyone else through the hell he's put me through."

Well, that would be a pretty good thing to do, wouldn't it? Especially if the next person is not as lucky as you, which brings me to:

"I say I don't think I will because really the hell I've been through has been more about the emotional pain of betrayal and being lied to about something so fundamental in a relationship - not really so much about someone breaking the law. Maybe my opinion would be different if the results had been positive... I don't know."

Yeah I think it would pal, because then the man you love would have DELIBERATELY caused you a premature, undignified and painful death.

Exposing someone to a deadly disease without their consent a loving act, pal. You can do better than that, and you deserve better than that.

If Mr Wonderful-But-Infected can lie to you about something this fundamentally important, how on earth can you trust him at all?

Don't buy any line like "I couldn't bear to lose you so I lied". That's no more than the admission of the worst sort of needy selfishness. Someone who really loved you - who actually rated you and your welfare above their own needs - would not have done this. No matter how strong his feelings, they are not love for you.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:26 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Exposing someone to a deadly disease without their consent IS NOT a loving act. Damn.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:28 PM on October 4, 2007

OP, you deserve better than someone who would lie to you so baldly about something so serious.

Someone who would not only lie to you, but then sleep with you without protection when he is HIV positive and knows he is, who would take your life in his hands that way, who would completely disregard your well-being for the sake of his own needs...that person is seriously, deeply messed up, and not relationship material.

However much you love him -- you might want to consider the possibility that he does not love you. He may say that he does, but his actions are speaking pretty loudly, and they're saying that he'd rather put your health at risk than deal with reality himself.

Please, please, please run.
posted by jennyjenny at 6:45 PM on October 4, 2007 [8 favorites]

This is no different than if you were involved with someone who was beating you up every day. This is a person who is deliberately hurting you physically, to the degree to which your life is at risk. There is no justifiable reason to stay with this evil person.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:10 PM on October 4, 2007 [5 favorites]

I'm happy your first test was negative; there's no denying that's good news. But please reread ikkyu2's comment above:

It's also worth bearing in mind that it can take several weeks to show a positive test after a person has been infected with HIV.

I assume the testing facility talked with you about the date of your last unprotected anal sex with him before giving you the "I'm negative" all-clear signal? Forgive me if I'm missing something, but I'm a teensy bit concerned you may not understand there's still some small possibility of infection at this point. That said, I think "stopping him from putting anyone else through the hell he's put me through" is all the reason you need to confront him and think seriously about filing charges. Honestly, I don't see how you could even *consider* staying with someone who'd knowingly endangered your health like this. How can there possibly be any trust whatsoever left in this relationship?
posted by mediareport at 8:13 PM on October 4, 2007

People these days do not necessarily begin the meds immediately upon testing positive. Some do, some don't, that's a decision between a patient and a doctor. But often these days people wait until their viral load reaches a threshold. Anyway, the point is that we can't assume the boyfriend's vial load is low. It may be high. The medicine is more indication that it's high than that it's low. And after five months of being a bottom in unsafe sex, the likelihood of infection is pretty high. You really should see this result not as "not infected" but as "don't know yet if I'm infected". After six months of negative results, then you'll know with relative certainty. Not now.

All that said, there's one other possibility, though perhaps remote, that no one has mentioned. Perhaps your boyfriend is taking the meds prophylactically. Perhaps he had unsafe sex with someone he knows or feared is HIV positive. Perhaps there's little relative risk, but he is being very careful and wanted to avoid alarming you. Or, perhaps he doesn't completely trust you.

Would a doctor prescribe this prophylactically? I don't know. Others here might. And, frankly, if he thinks he is at risk enough to take meds, then he oughtn't be having unsafe sex with you until he knows he's HIV negative. Or, alternatively, if he doesn't believe you're HIV negative, then he's foolish in having unsafe sex. So, at worst (in this alternative he's-not-HIV-positive scenario) he's not giving your safety the same consideration he's giving his own. At best, he's being foolish, paranoid, and not trusting you while lying to you about not trusting you. All in all, even in this most optimistic scenario, this is someone you should break-up with, immediately.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:41 PM on October 4, 2007

If some fuckwit pointed a gun at me and pulled the trigger and it just so happened that the gun misfired, I would:

a) restrain myself from assaulting said fuckwit so that I could
b) unleash legal hell on them so that
c) said fuckwit would have the opportunity to learn that endangering the lives of others for WHATEVER reason is stupid, wrong, and evil.

I lost a very good friend in similar circumstances. He loved Gary, Gary loved him, surely Gary wouldn't lie. Now both of them are dead. Gary was a fucking liar, and his lies killed my friend.

Prosecute, abandon, put up fliers, make his life hell.

Let's assume a best-case scenario: he wanted to tell you, he was going to tell you, but he was afraid you'd leave him, he's needy and lonely and you're perfect. He did a bad thing, but his motives weren't evil. He's just flawed and human, like the rest of us.

EVEN IN THAT SCENARIO, he's a stupid fuckwit who needs a big fat dose of reality administered as quickly and harshly as possible.

He may not be evil. He may be the sweetest, nicest, greatest guy around. But his actions WERE evil, and he should be punished for them, so that he will learn not to put others thoughtlessly at risk.

This will suck, and be a traumatic hassle for you. Tough. It's the right thing to do, and it sucks that he put you in the position of having to do it. But do it: not for revenge, not for pissiness, not for drama or back-atcha. Prosecute him because someone else's life, or at least their quality of life, may very well depend on it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:53 PM on October 4, 2007 [10 favorites]

After six months of negative results, then you'll know with relative certainty.

While I agree with EB that the poster should not consider himself completely "negative" at this point, it's worth mentioning again that the vast majority of people infected show up positive after *three* months. Get tested again at six months, sure, but at three months, we probably hit something like "relative certainty."
posted by mediareport at 9:00 PM on October 4, 2007

OP, I'm glad to see that you're ok, and thank you so much for the follow-up. I'll be thinking about you, and sending you good vibes.
posted by rtha at 10:54 PM on October 4, 2007

of course our original poster has my support. and i'm sooooo glad he's ok. he knows i've been worrying about him.

but i think we need to consider his partner. his partner is clearly not coping with his illness and needs counseling for his own benefit.

what his partner did is absolutely unacceptable, but our original poster knows that... he's just dealing with something huge.

i hope the partner is compelled to get some help.... it would be awful for everybody, including our very own original poster if anybody else became ill.... or his partner became more ill than necessary because he was non-compliant because he was in denial.

so, possum, my rationale is different... but the hope is the same... that you'll get some help for your partner as soon as possible. it's not ok for him to go on like this. i think you'd feel a lot better about everything if you turned it in to a positive this way, rather than the criminal proceedings route. although if you decided to do that, that's ok too. you have to do what you feel comfortable with.

good luck. and take care of yourself. i mean it.
posted by taff at 12:24 AM on October 5, 2007

I emailed anonymous and he asked me to bring it into the thread because it was part of the reason he decided not to prosecute. This was the relevant part of my original email:
There are laws about knowingly infecting someone, but that's not necessarily what your boyfriend did. Trizivir is a good drug, and one of its goals is to reduce the amount of HIV in his blood until it is undetectable. Now, I'm assuming that your boyfriend hasn't totally dealt with his diagnosis (hence not telling you), and so he may not fully understand what that means. He may have thought that if his viral load was undetectable, then it is impossible to infect someone. He may have thought that as long as he took his drugs, you were safe. So, he might have been trying to protect himself and protect you at the same time. Just a thought.
Now, to add to that.

1. You are clearly still in shock about this. That's understandable; I think any of us would be. But please try to remember that and let it die down a bit before making any firm decisions.

2. You haven't confronted him yet, so you don't know if what I'm saying applies in this case. If I were you, I would not mention the possibility I raised when talking to him. I don't want you to get lied to again. See what he says for himself.

3. HIV has changed since anti-retrovirals got going. Maybe he got diagnosed a while ago, but didn't have any symptoms and so it never sunk in. Maybe later his viral load went up or his immune system started suffering and he got sick. Then he had to start meds. THEN it sunk in and he couldn't deal with it, so he hid it. Getting outed is going to trigger a fear-reaction. Please have this conversation in a relatively private, but relatively PUBLIC place. You need a way out if things get bad.

4. I understand that you like him and you're looking for a way for this to be okay. You're thinking, maybe he was just scared and thought he could protect me—that would make this okay. Maybe I unknowingly took a huge risk, but miraculously didn't get HIV—that would make this okay. You're looking for a solution. Please recognise that in yourself. Maybe you are right. But maybe you are wrong, and you need to have a plan for that too, as much as it hurts.

5. Here is an interview with four couples where one person is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative. Can you handle this? (And please notice that all of these people know that's the situation they're in! If your bf is in denial about this or just doesn't give a shit about transmitting it, that's a whole other pile of baggage. Baggage is harder to deal with than HIV.)

6. Safer Sex Menu (PDF, gorgeous). Let's say it all magically works out. What are your options?

Go talk to someone at an AIDS Service Organization (find one here) who has seen this before, who knows what the deal is with HIV treatment, who you can vent to safely and get some constructive advice. Maybe it'll work out okay, but you have to deal with it first, and that's easier with support.

If you can't trust him with your health, if he knowingly puts you at risk to protect himself, if he stays angry at you for bringing it up, if he resents safe sex, DTMFA. Take a break for now at least. I know you love him. I'm sorry this is hard. But you've got to love you right now.
posted by heatherann at 5:02 AM on October 5, 2007 [8 favorites]

And a bit more (as if my last post wasn't long enough):

Please don't assume that I'm right about your boyfriend. Don't assume that I'm wrong either, obviously, but find out from him what's going on. It's so easy to get blinded by love. In the best of situations, he would have told you about this from the start, and you wouldn't have rejected him out of fear, and you would have enjoyed a full, safe life with him. The best way I can see this working out now is for you to take a break for a bit, let you both get your heads on straight (let him deal with his diagnosis and come to you in truth and openness), and then try to come together again and proceed in a safe and supportive way. That is a TON of work, though.

And, like with all the depression threads and the drug-addiction threads and the irresponsible-with-money threads, his reaction isn't up to you. You can try to make it work, but you can't do it on your own. If he's not up for it, I want you to recognise that and bite the bullet and break it off. Not because he's HIV+, but because he's not giving you the truth, and you need that for a healthy relationship.

If you find that he knew everything about the risks he was taking with your health and was being malicious or knowingly irresponsible about it, please charge him and protect your peers.
posted by heatherann at 5:38 AM on October 5, 2007

I don't think I'll prosecute because I can't see what benefit it would be to anyone - other than possibly stopping him from putting anyone else through the hell he's put me through.

Could you live comfortably, knowing that he will almost certainly put someone else through the same ordeal you have just been through?

Once you have gotten over your understandable shock, you must make it clear to him that his dishonesty nearly killed you.

If you still have a little love left for him, you should file whatever charges you can.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:47 AM on October 5, 2007

Just a minor quibble: I don't know where people are getting the idea that a misdemeanor is "like getting a traffic ticket." (This showed up in another thread too.) The vast majority of traffic tickets - speeding, rolling a stop, etc. - are violations, punishable only by fines, and are not criminal. A misdemeanor offense is a criminal charge, and carries a possibility of jail time. Misdemeanor traffic charges include much more serious things like DUI. Misdemeanors show up on criminal record searches. If anon decides to press charges, it would, as item says, not be a picnic for the boyfriend.

Anon, you know the situation far better than we do, but I hope we can encourage you to look at this as objectively as possible. I can't think of any circumstance where lying about something as important as HIV status would be justified. There's no two ways about it: your boyfriend knowingly put your life at risk to achieve his own selfish ends. If you can stay with him knowing that, then that's your right - but don't try to rationalize it away. Relationships are built on trust, and what your boyfriend did is one of the biggest breaches of trust there is.

Listen: you sound like a nice, intelligent, level-headed guy, and while I don't know what the scene is like where you live, I bet there are a bunch of other guys out there who are looking for someone like you, and who you'll click with the way you do with this boyfriend. Please seriously consider whether it is worth it to stay in this relationship.

All that said, I'm thrilled to hear you're negative. That must be a huge weight off your shoulders. I wish you the best sorting the rest of this out (and don't be afraid to reach out to us Mefites as you do).
posted by AV at 5:50 AM on October 5, 2007

until I read online that the signs can take up to six months to form.

This is incorrect. Symptoms of acute HIV infection often show up quite quickly in the form of general malaise, achiness, perhaps a low fever and a mild sore throat. In other words, many people who are infected feel, within a few days, as if they are coming down with a cold. Those symptoms then go away.

It can take up to six months for the anti-bodies that are detected by standard HIV tests to develop to the point where they are detectable. More frequently this occurs within three months. This is a separate thing.

Anyway, the point is that we can't assume the boyfriend's vial load is low. It may be high. The medicine is more indication that it's high than that it's low.

I agree with EB that the presence of meds tells us nothing definitive about the BFs viral load. However, even people poorly controlled on ARVs tend to have low viral loads. It is not true that the presence of the medications is more of an indication of high viral load. It is the opposite, the meds are more of an indication of low viral load. (And, I might say, particularly in this case, because Trizivir is now (since ~2004) not recommended as a stand alone treatment. If the BF is on Trizivir alone (which is indicated in the question) then he is either not being followed well (a distinct possibility that does not account for how he got the meds), or he is well enough controlled (in other words, has no detectable viral load) that his doc saw no reason to switch him off a deprecated medication. (He still should have been switched.))
posted by OmieWise at 6:15 AM on October 5, 2007

I'm glad to hear of the initial negative test result for the OP like everyone else.

I'm not going to touch on the prosecuting issue.

But I really don't think that you should have any consideration for continuing a relationship with him. Even if he was taking the meds as a "just in case" factor having been exposed unsafely to someone with a high HIV probability, this is something that he needed to tell you.

Likely he needs therapy. Undoutedly he's going through a really bad time in his life. But that does not excuse his inaction of not informing you.

Love, in my mind, is wanting the best for said person; not selfish wanting of said person. I love my wife, but if she suddenly told me it's over, I'd try and talk and find out what's up. Ultimately if I can't convince her, even if she won't tell me any reason why, I would accept her leaving me. I would not tie her up in the basement while telling everyone else she left me and I have no clue where she went. I wouldn't kill her so no one else could have her. I wouldn't stalk her and threaten/kill any and every guy/girl that she later came in contact with. I'm pretty sure that I'd instinctively perform an action that would take my life to try and save her from harm.

This guy selfishly kept information relevant to deathly circumstances from you. By any definition of love that I can think of, he does not love you. Obsession, affection, fearful/selfish desperation; maybe. But not love.
posted by nobeagle at 12:15 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

Can you just get away for a long time? Not break up, just get away? A scary terrible thing just happened to you--can you make this business trip last a couple of weeks and just sit somewhere with plenty of empty time safely by yourself so you can recover and think this through? Maybe at the distant home of a nonjudgemental friend, maybe in a hotel room in a faraway city? Somebody you loved and relied on for emotional support and safety has just become a threat to your actual life, not to mention your emotional equilibrium. Now what you chiefly need to be able to think clearly is safety and emotional support. Go and get it elsewhere from someone you can trust--you, preferably.

It's too soon, clearly, for you to DTMF. Love don't just pop like a balloon when struck with a lance. Dan Savage is right that it SHOULD. It would be better for all if it DID. But it does not. Let us all now face that unfortunate fact and plan for its inevitable role in our own lives when we end up in love with a murderous psycho or someone with a lethal dose of impulsive idiocy or whatever toxic combo we get. Idiots and psychos disguised as reasonable people are out there and waiting for us all. We could all one day be wrecked by some unimaginable blow from someone we trusted and be hobbling around in shock and dismay deafened by the constant cawing of DTMFA.

Forget whether this is a misdemeanor or a felony, forget your responsibility to society, forget the question of when and how to confront, don't say anything, just pack a bag and get the hell out of there.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:35 PM on October 5, 2007 [3 favorites]

I know it's difficult--sometimes impossible--to simply stop loving someone, but you have to remember what he did to you wasn't just a sin of omission. He didn't just forget or hesitate to tell you, he actively lied about it knowing it was putting you in danger.

Consider this; when he supposedly got tested, he had an opportunity right there to tell you he'd suddenly discovered he'd been exposed. He could even have lied and said the test results weren't back yet, weren't conclusive, got lost in the mail, were negative but I have some other STD, got chewed up by a loose lab mouse, so we'd better keep using protection for now honey! Then there's I have a headache, I'm too tired tonight, this joint pain is just too much, etc. etc. Surely he would have been capable of telling lies like that to keep you from putting yourself at risk if he cared about you.

Whatever his reason for not being honest with you, it wasn't because he loved you and wanted to protect you. I'm sorry.
posted by Soliloquy at 2:10 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

Worried about you. Really was afraid for you.

Doubt what you are feeling is love, when such an outrageous betrayal has been perpetrated on you. Sounds more like love addiction. Please consider reading The Betrayal Bond.

You may be too emotionally exhausted to go the legal route just now and a lawsuit enmeshes the litigant's focus on the abuser. More pain. But, you will likely be saving other people's lives by outing this bastard monster and he is that. You are sadly close to having been a murder victim. And you may be a suicide victim if you stay. Betrayers of that caliber don't stop at one betrayal.

Save your life. Leave.
posted by nickyskye at 11:41 AM on October 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

OP, you simply must leave him. The fact that you (seemingly) lucked out and did not contract a fatal illness does not reflect on him. He did not care enough about you to not expose you to HIV. "My bad" doesn't exactly cover this.
posted by spaltavian at 11:59 AM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Read The Sociopath Next Door, and then make your decision.
posted by letahl at 12:08 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

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