Mum who ‘isn’t homophobic’ but scared her son’s HIV-positive boyfriend could ‘accidentally’ pass it to their children gets a blunt science lesson
A mother wrote to an agony aunt because she is “scared” her son’s HIV-positive partner will transmit the virus to their children through a “small cut” and got a blunt science lesson.
Writing to Oregon Live agony aunt Amy Dickinson, a reader said she “struggled” when her son Steven first came out as gay, but has come to accept it.
The woman said she was recently introduced to Stephen’s new boyfriend Adam on a Zoom call, and was shocked when she learned that he is living with HIV.
“My son announced this on the Zoom call (I didn’t have time to process it), and then became irate when I asked some questions to better understand what that means,” she wrote.
“I remember the ’80s, and actually had a close friend die from AIDS,” she continued.
“My son claims I’m being ignorant, but I was alive during that time – he wasn’t!”
I’m not homophobic. I just need some processing time.
Bizarrely, the woman then went on to claim that she is “scared of what will happen if they stay together and have children.”
“Will they have to live the rest of their lives in fear that Adam will accidentally infect the children via a small cut? It seems like the relationship is quite serious, and I’m trying to read up on ways to be supportive.”
She closed off her letter by saying that her son had threatened to cut contact with her over her reaction but insisted that she is “anxious about the risk of transmission”.
“I’m not homophobic. I just need some processing time without the threat of ‘I’m going to cut you off if you can’t understand that love is love’ constantly hanging over my head,” she finished.
Agony aunt schools mother over her HIV ignorance.
Luckily, the agony aunt reminded the writer of the facts surrounding the virus and the huge strides made by research since the 1980s.
“You quickly leap to the remote improbability that these two will have children and that Adam will infect their children. Whoa!” Dickinson replied.
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“This is NOT the 1980s,” she added.
“With antiretroviral therapy, people with HIV can reduce the viral load enough that it is considered to be undetectable. That is a life-saving medical advance.”
In fact, research has proven that HIV cannot be transmitted when a person is on effective antiretroviral medication.
By taking daily medication, a person’s viral load — the amount of the virus in the blood — decreases so much that it cannot be passed on through condomless sex, and certainly can’t be passed on through small cuts.
Sadly, stigmatising views like these around HIV are still overwhelmingly common.
But leaps in science since the height of the AIDS epidemic mean that people with the virus can now live healthy, happy and long lives.