If you are not in a relationship but are looking for one, having HIV may affect how you feel about finding a partner, and even the type of partner that you look for.

Some men have felt unable to form new relationships after they were diagnosed, sometimes because they feel in some way ‘tainted’ by their HIV, and sometimes because the psychological burden of being diagnosed with HIV can cause problems with confidence and self-esteem. We talk more about this in the section on looking after yourself.

There’s also the fear of rejection which can play heavily on the mind. It is true that some men will choose not to sleep with you because you have HIV, which is their choice. However, there are also many men who don’t feel HIV is a reason not to have sex with someone. Just because it happens once or twice it doesn’t mean you’ll always be turned down.

If you are finding that HIV is making it difficult for you to form new relationships then there are people who can help. You’ll find information about the support available later in the section on relationship support.

You may feel that you can only look for, or may only want, a partner who also has HIV. This way HIV can be out in the open from the start and so you shouldn’t have any worry about rejection because of your HIV status. However, a lot of men with HIV don’t feel they should restrict themselves to one group of men just because they have HIV. After all you can’t help who you fancy, or fall in love with, and there are plenty of perfectly happy couples where only one man has HIV.

If you find someone you are keen on, you may worry about when to tell him you have HIV. If you have been open from the start and told him you have HIV before you had sex with him then this may not be an issue. However, if you didn’t talk about HIV with him before you had sex and the relationship starts to develop you will probably find it increasingly difficult to tell him.

If you always used condoms when you fucked then you’ve both done everything you can to keep safe during sex. However if you have had unprotected sex with him, telling him that you have HIV means you will also be telling him that he has been exposed to HIV and may also now be HIV-positive. If you’ve only just had unprotected sex, then telling him you have HIV straight afterwards means that he will be able to access PEP, which if taken within 72 hours of exposure to your HIV could stop him from becoming HIV-positive. You can read more about PEP on our Sex and Sexual Health pages. If you’ve had unprotected sex with him in the past, then he’ll need to know he has been exposed to your HIV so that he can consider whether he wants to go for an HIV test.

Telling him that you have HIV after you had unprotected sex may make him upset or angry that you didn’t tell him sooner, and there’s no guarantee that in this situation he’ll want to continue with the relationship. There’s also the chance that if you didn’t tell him you had HIV and you fucked without condoms, and he then tested HIV-positive, that you could be in trouble with the law. You can read more about this in the section on Sex.