Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Confessions Of An Evil Friend And Concerned Mother

Posted By Anonymous.

To one of my dearest friends and godfather of my two young sons,

There has been something on my mind that I wanted to talk to you about. Perhaps I should do it in person, but I know I will not be able to accurately and appropriately convey the information I need to convey so I figured I would convey it in writing in order to get my thoughts down.

First, I am glad that you are feeling better and getting to the point where you can go about your regular schedule. It's good to see you doing well.

I also wanted to let you know that we you and are here for you if you need to talk or hang out or anything.

Now to the two things that are not easy for me to bring up but that have been on my mind. I feel I would be doing our friendship a disservice if I did not bring these things up.

First, I have been thinking about your ex. I know I asked you the other night if you had told him about your recent HIV diagnosis and I couldn't tell whether or not you intended to tell him in the near future. However, I feel that ethically you should. I know the doctors told you when you contracted the virus, but one thing I have learned through my work, my psychology degree, and the need to see many types of doctors (OB/GYN, Primary, Dentist, Oral Surgeon, Pediatrician, Surgeon, Osteopathic doctor, Reproductive Endocrinologist, etc.) is that doctors, tests, and technologies are often incorrect/inaccurate in particular if they are new. Because of this I think it would be wise of you to tell him as soon as possible and encourage him to get tested. With all tests (even old, well-known ones like pregnancy tests) there is always a chance of error and inaccuracy. In fact, I called the CDC and was told that there is no test to determine when you contracted HIV as you have told us. For this reason, I think you should err on the side of caution for his and your sake and have him get tested.

The second thing I wanted to bring up, and this is hard for me, is certain habits that we as a group have that I feel may need to slightly change. I have always prided myself in being a level-headed, educated, and compassionate person when it comes to HIV. When you first told us that you may have the virus I did research on the tests available for detecting the virus, the percentage of chance that the test would come back false, and I refreshed myself on some of the methods of transmitting the virus. One of the things that comes to my mind is sharing drinks, food utensils, or essentially saliva swapping. In general, what I read says you cannot transmit HIV by sharing drinks or utensils. However, those same sources (such as the CDC) go on to say that in theory transmission is possible if one person has some portion of blood in their mouth and the person they share a drink with has an open wound. The language used on these sites also leaves room for the possibility of transmission in this manner but states it is unlikely.

For myself I think the chances are remote and I am not concerned. But I guess because I am a mom now I feel the need to be overly cautious (even if irrationally so) with my two year old son, K. I have to be honest and let you know that the other day when you came over to the house for the inauguration I was disappointed, scared, and upset. I was upset by the fact that you let K drink out of your water glass. I don't know if you noticed but K commonly picks at his upper lip and at times pulls the skin off which causes an open wound from which he bleeds. Also, it is common that we as human beings have some portion of blood in our mouths either from toothbrushing, cheeck biting, eating hard foods, or general canker sore types of things. For this reason, I think it is best not to share drinks with the kids. It may sound strange but for some reason I can think about the rational remote odds of something happening should I share a drink and dismiss it quickly. But I can't do that with the kids as I don't know what I would do if for some reason one of them became the first documented case of transmission through drink sharing no matter how remote the chances were.

I know the chance of contracting HIV in this manner is remote, but I would expect that when it comes to K (and eventually my nine week old son), we would all want to err on the side of caution in this type of situation. Especially because most articles I have read (at least the ones that look as if there was some scientific research involved) make statements saying "transmission is unlikely" but "possible in theory". I would also think that as a person living with the disease you would certainly want compassion, but at the same time you would want to take extra precautions to ensure that you did not do anything that may put someone else in harms way no matter how remote the chance.

I'm not sure how you will take this letter. We still love you, want to hug you and kiss you, and be your family. Because of that I had to share this with you as I didn't want to get bitter and upset for feeling like you were being irresponsible and negligent when it came to K's protection. I didn't want it to be something I worried about that would eventually cause distance between us. So as hard as it is to bring it up I felt I had to.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm going to call you out here, and praise you for "rehearsing" your spiel to your friend because it's entirely tone-deaf. You begin by trying to convince him that you have his best interests at heart, and guilt-tripping him into disclosing his status to his partner. This is entirely his call, though I'm sure he'd welcome your support if it was truly out of concern for him. Instead, your true colors emerge for what they are: an overly paranoid mother's reaction based on falsely misconstrued "evidence" about HIV transmission through casual contact. Clearly your only concern here is for your son, and protecting him from his godparent's newly deemed status as an infectious agent. You have already made him a pariah in your mind, so why are you pretending to include him in your lives? If you are concerned about your son, I recommend you quit Dr. Google and speak to your son's pediatrician about the risks (or lack thereof) from casual contact with this man. What you really need is education about HIV transmission, and compassion for your friend, not protection for your son.

Michelle said...

Wow. I totally disagree with anon. I think it is entirely reasonable that you think he should tell a partner that he may have infected. I also think it is reasonable that you may be (even if it is overly) protective. Don't we all want to protect our children? You know that your child will probably not contract HIV from sharing drinks, but if you aren't comfortable about it that is your choice, and no offense to your friend.

I think you DO have compassion for your friend. But family comes first. We can't pretend that HIV doesn't change anything. That is unrealistic.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it must be nice to hand someone their ass at 7am, anon.

I do agree with the whole talk to your pediatrician, who can help you gauge the proper amount of concern.

That said? My BIL has HIV, and I love him to death, cuddle with him on the couch, give him hugs and kisses, and on and on and on. I do not, however, eat or drink after him for two excellent reasons..

I'm a lip and cheek chewer who constantly has open sores in and around her mouth.

He's got HIV, so the last thing he needs is my germs! His T cell counts get very scary sometimes, and a case of the sniffles that is merely an inconvenience to me can make him very, very sick.

And maybe you say both of those things to your friend. That you can't be comfortable with drink sharing with the kids, because it's not the safest thing for the kids or for your friend.

Good luck.

Jaden Paige said...

I also disagree with Anonymous. While I do agree that maybe you should talk to your pediatrician about the rick level to your son, it is ultimately your decision whether or not you are comfortable with him sharing drinks with your son, and if you aren't, it's best not to pretend you are and let it bother you and fester within, which will only cause tension in your relationship with him.

I think overall, you are being level-headed and coming at this from a place of love and concern- for both him and your children. I totally understand why you say you don't care about the food and drink sharing for yourself, but it's different with your children. Moms are known to be overprotective, and that's OKAY.

I think your friend will be happy that you felt you were able to tell him how you really feel about these things, and that you can move on and still have a great friendship. Good luck in talking with him.

Sheri said...

Wow first anon commenter, gotta chip on that shoulder?


If indeed they are close, I would think the HIV positive friend would appreciate her concerns and would understand since her son is a lip biter. Imagine how he would feel if the child was infected and that is a TERRIFIC point about not exposing this gentleman to kid germs as well.

Get a grip anon. It is my job as a parent to protect my children and I wold welcome a letter such as this as opposed to taking cover and running the other direction with my child.

As for the comment about the ex. That person SHOULD be told.

brenna said...

Maybe it's just me, but I would be squicked if I saw even my best friend sharing a drink with my kid. Even leaving HIV out of the picture, what about sharing regular ol' germs? Not to mention, what sane adult would even want to share a drink with a kid? I love my kids, but they backwash.

Anonymous said...

i hope that your friend will respond well to your concerns. i also would not place the whole drink sharing responsibility on your friend though... teach your child to not share drinks with others. i don't know how young your little guy is, but he can learn to not drink from others cups.

Anonymous said...

If I was this person you're writing to I would appreciate the fact that you're telling me your concerns so that our relationship wouldn't become awkward in the future. I think it's a nice letter and truly shows how hard it was for you to write it.

KL said...

I think your friendship is at risk but I also think that you're okay with that.

On the hygiene front, I would expect your friend to feel offended, whether you intend the offense or not. Just as many commenters here grant that you are "entitled" to feel over-protective, you can grant that he is entitled to feel offended. It will be up to him to weigh that offense against the depth and years of trust and love in your friendship. This could endanger the future of your friendship. I think you're okay with that.

On the ethics of disclosure, I think you have lost some respect for your friend, regardless of whether he is considering professional advice while making his decision. Your loss of respect endangers the friendship. I think you're okay with that. Perhaps you have lost a lot of respect for him because you suspect he is manipulating the truth about his "knowledge" of when he was exposed.

If you decide to confront him about his disclosure decision, he will likely feel offended to have you challenge his judgement and integrity. That could endanger your friendship.

Maybe my predictions are wrong. Perhaps your friend will not be offended by your over-protectiveness or your questioning his ethics. Maybe he will even agree with you about your concerns. Or perhaps he will be offended but not so much that he would decide to sever or down-grade your friendship.

Is your over-protectiveness or loss of respect for him enough that _you_ would sever or down-grade the friendship? Are you afraid of the guilt that might come from that decision? Are you hoping that by confronting him, he'll take the decision out of your hands and leave you guilt-freely relieved?

PaciMama said...

Isn't there a law now that if you are infected, that you must tell previous partners?

Good luck, OP. I totally agree, I would not be willing to take any risk with my child, whatsoever, even as much as I loved my friend.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that you talk to them in person because what you wrote said "ick!! don't come near us!!" on soooo many levels. It sounded like there was no empathy or concern for your friend, even though you try to position it that way (which is very manipulative). Be truthful, you are scared of maintaining a relationship with this person. Just be honest and break the relationship instead of pretending to care when you're really disgusted. Anon@7:28am sounded more concerned about her BIL than you do about your friend. Take note.

Delphine said...

Wow, give her a break, she just found out and she thinks of her kids, it doens't mean that suddenly she's lost respect for her friend !

One of the persons I love the most in the world is HIV positive and he is very very careful about hygiene, but in a really discreet way, and I almost never think about any risk. I was never frightened of having contact with him, but perhaps that's because he's been careful enough. If he went about the house drinking in my kids's glasses, perhaps I would have some concerns too... Maybe her friend is not used yet to his condition and sometimes forget the elementary precautions.
Good luck to you, OP and to your friend !

Anonymous said...

I have worked in HIV/AIDS organizations. I have had dear friends who are HIV positive. I also have a 2-year-old that I am absurdly over-protective of. And I think the OP is totally off-base.

The chances of transmission in the way she describes are a lot less than remote. She takes more risks with her kids by getting into a car with them and getting on a highway.

I think this is a whole lot of bigotry amd ignorance disguised as concern. And it's not a very compassionate way to treat someone who is experiencing a very difficult period in his life.

Anonymous said...

If I got such a letter from a "friend," I'd say, "I'm sorry you believe I have put your child at risk. It will probably make you feel better if we avoid all contact.


Anonymous said...

Not too sure how this works, but both of these seem to be very valid concerns- the first, someone needs to tell the ex. And the second is equally important, both for your children and for your friend... Hope you find a way to let this out to your friend, and walk with him positively..

Anonymous said...

I work as a psychotherapist in an HIV clinic, and while I do think that perhaps you may be a little overprotective of your child and not completely understand the means of transmission, I also understand that many parents have rules about who their child may share drinks with that have nothing to do with change your rules if you want, but be careful not to blame as you do so.
Second, I know that you want to protect the ex-partner, but a new diagnosis is scary and there are so many complex feelings and fears associated with disclosing one's status. In my state, there are anonymous systems in place through the department of public health. If you know of similar systems in your state, you might consider encouraging your friend to utilize these avenues if he is afraid of open disclosure. Please remember, though, it is his right who he chooses to disclose with, and in fact it is illegal to for you or anyone besides him to disclose his status to anyone else without his permission.