Dear Amy: When my son “Steven,” came out (a few years ago), I struggled at first. All I want is for him to be in a happy, secure, fulfilling relationship with someone (of whatever gender).
However, he recently Zoom-introduced us to his new boyfriend, “Adam.” Adam is HIV-positive. 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.
I remember the ‘80s, and actually had a close friend die from AIDS.
My son claims I’m being ignorant, but I was alive during that time — he wasn’t!
I’m 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.
My son is now threatening to cut off contact for a few months if I can’t immediately get on board.
I love my son, and Adam seems lovely, too, but I feel 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.
Am I being unreasonable? — Mom
Dear Mom: You and your son seem to be playing a game of sorts. He tells you that he is gay, and your eventual reaction is that you only want him to be happy with a partner of “whatever gender.”
Mom — I have news for you: he has chosen his gender, and it’s not “whatever.”
He then introduces you to lovely “Adam” via Zoom and immediately broadsides you with perplexing health news.
You quickly leap to the remote improbability that these two will have children and that Adam will infect their children. Whoa!
I’ve got a pro-tip that will make your life much easier. If you don’t know what to say or how to react to any given situation — respond only in generalities: “Oh, I see.” “Wow — that caught me off-guard. I don’t really know what to say.”
Give yourself time to process things, even if you feel pushed to react.
This is NOT the 1980s. You can read more about HIV, treatments and risks on the CDC website: CDC.gov/hiv/basics.
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.
You should ask your son (as carefully as possible) about his own health — this might be his way of trying to tell you that he also has HIV.
Dear Amy: My oldest sister (83) has talked about her first love (“Fred”). They dated for over a year when she was 20, but he broke up with her.
She was devastated. She eventually got married and had two children. She got divorced from her husband because he was abusive. She’s mentioned many times that maybe she could find Fred and call him.
Kiddingly, I said maybe I can find where he is by searching the internet. She asked me if I could. This was a couple months ago, and she hasn’t asked me about it since.
However, I did find Fred. Unfortunately, he passed away a number of years ago.
My other sister said I should tell our older sister what I found. I don’t agree. What’s the point at this stage of her life? Let her think about him if it gives her happy thoughts. I think telling her would make her very sad, but should she know the truth? — Undecided Sister
Dear Undecided: I think that you should tell your sister the truth, supplying any information about “Fred” that you have. Of course, she will be sad! You should abide with her through her sadness, and if she wants to muse about “what might have been,” then you should be with her through that, too.
Dear Amy: I mainly agreed with your advice to “Quarantine Nervous Nellie,” until you suggested that she could report her partying neighbors to their town’s tip line.
That tip line is for important matters, not for one neighbor to report on another! — Upset
Dear Upset: I don’t like the idea of neighbors policing each other, but actually, I think this is exactly what these local COVID tip lines are for.