HIV-Negative: How the Uninfected Are Affected by AIDS
Copyright © 1995 by William I. Johnston
New York: Insight Books-Plenum Press
FACILITATORS of the Boston HIV-Negative Support Group have used some of these open-ended questions to begin conversations.
DEALING WITH GRIEF AND LOSS
- What losses due to AIDS have you experienced, on a personal or community level?
- How is the way you feel about yourself affected after a significant part of your life is gone?
- What are some of the ways you've expressed grief?
- What might be signs of unresolved grief?
- Some grief counselors talk about a "grief cycle" and about how long it should take to process a loss. Do these grief theories apply when someone suffers repeated losses?
ATTITUDES TOWARD RETESTING
- How does the uncertainty of the HIV test affect your feelings about yourself and others?
- How do you deal with fear or anxiety that the HIV test might not be accurate?
- What are some of the good things you get from being tested?
- What issues remain unresolved after the testing process?
HIV AND DISCLOSURE
- What feelings have you experienced after getting tested?
- How do those feelings change with time, and when do your feelings lead you to consider another HIV test?
- Are there unique issues that arise during retesting that you did not experience during your first HIV test?
- How is the quality of your life affected by retesting?
BEING WITH HIV-POSITIVE FRIENDS AND LOVERS
- Who have you told about your HIV-negative status?
- What advantages or disadvantages are there to disclosing your HIV-negative status?
- Should HIV-positive men disclose their status to sexual partners? Should HIV-negative men?
- How do you bring up the subject of your status with others, positive or negative?
- How is your sexual behavior influenced by knowing the HIV status of your partner?
IS IT EVER SAFE TO HAVE UNPROTECTED SEX?
- What feelings do you have about HIV-positive lovers?
- What questions would you not pose to people who are positive?
- In what ways do you feel you can be intimate with someone who is HIV-positive?
- What feelings do you have when with your HIV-positive friends?
- How do you feel when your lover or friends begin to talk about being HIV-positive? When they're sick?
- In what way does knowledge of HIV status affect your choice of friendships?
SELF-ESTEEM, SUBSTANCE USE, AND SEX
- Is sex without condoms always unsafe?
- Is it difficult for us to discuss the unprotected sex we have?
- Is it ever important to have unprotected sex?
- Does "unsafe" mean different things for HIV-negative and HIV-positive people?
TIMES I'VE HAD UNSAFE SEX -- OR WANTED TO
- How do you know a person has high or low self-esteem?
- What do drugs and alcohol do for self-esteem?
- Does it seem as if gay men around you drink and drug more or less than before AIDS?
- What do drugs and alcohol do for sex?
- What are some "pick-me-ups" that work to help you feel better about yourself when you're feeling down?
SEX TALK: LEARNING TO SAY HOW AND WHEN
- What circumstances cause you to want unsafe sex?
- When have you actually engaged in unsafe sex?
- What feels different about wearing a condom? Why would not wearing a condom feel different?
- When you have wanted to have unsafe sex and didn't, what stopped you?
- Is it ever unsafe to negotiate safer sex?
THE ROLE OF OUR SEXUAL FANTASIES
- What are some of your success stories regarding good communication with sexual partners?
- How do sexual roles (top/bottom, daddy/son, master/slave) affect your ability to talk about sex with your partner?
- What are your fears about discussing sex with your partner?
- How does the kind of relationship you have with your partner (fuck buddy, friend, lover, trick) affect the way you talk about sex?
- Describe an erotic experience that challenged your rules about sexual safety. How would talking with your partner have made the sex safer?
- How can you practice talking about sex?
- How have your fantasies changed since AIDS appeared?
- How does concern about HIV influence your use of pornography?
- To what extent do your fantasies involve safer sex?
- How do your fantasies influence your practices?
- What emotions does fantasizing about unsafe sex bring about?
- How do your fantasies compare to what you do in reality?
WHAT'S IN OUR FUTURE?
- What is your life like being HIV-negative?
- How do you feel your life would be different if you seroconverted?
- What pressures, if any, do you feel to become infected? How do you handle those pressures?
- How would you react to seroconverting? To whom would you reveal this? How might they respond?
- What changes would you make in your life if you were HIV-positive?
- How would you feel about a friend who seroconverted?
- How often and how clearly do you think about your future?
- How far into the future do your dreams and fantasies go?
- How easy is it to talk about your future with friends? Does it differ depending on their HIV status?
- What are some of the things you're looking forward to in your life?
- Do you have concerns or worries about the future?
- What are your thoughts on growing older as a gay or bisexual man?
- Do you think of yourself as a survivor of the AIDS epidemic? What does that mean to you?
Appendix A B C ·