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My Life: Dating, Disclosure, and HIV

By on November 30, 2012

October 25, 2001 was a day that would change my life.  As I walked to the office that afternoon and I already knew the yet to be confirmed outcome.  It took less than 15 minutes to be informed that I was indeed HIV positive.

Upon receiving the news,  I wondered if I would ever find love again?

Dating as an HIV positive African American man over the past 11 years has been educational to say the least.   After taking a self-imposed 3 year hiatus from men after my diagnosis, I decided to get back out there and date.  Prior to seeking intimacy again I first had to be comfortable with myself.  This would take some time. At the time, I considered myself  “damaged goods”.

Was I really ready to deal with the rejection that I was destine to encounter?

I  pledged to myself that I would only deal in full disclosure moving forward.  Sadly, my ex did not have the decency (or courage) to tell me about his own HIV status during our short-lived relationship. I did not want to repeat his mistake.  The stigma of being an HIV positive person keeps many men (and women) silent. And while I do not agree with it I totally understand the silence. Silence can protect you when the truth may come back to harm you, literally.  Who wants to live life being viewed as a pariah?

Dating in the age of HIV/AIDS has its challenges.  I can remember meeting that first guy after my diagnosis and how my heart which had been closed for some time began to open up on the premise of “just what if”.   But the weight of my disclosure dangling over my head pushed me to come clean with this guy before things got to hot and heavy.  I had to tell him about my status after several weeks of dating.  It was the right thing to do. To my surprise he did not run in the other direction as I anticipated.

Ironically, I’ve noticed in the 11 years of  my “new phase” of dating that many adult men  are not too informed about HIV even now 30+ years after the first case was diagnosed.  After disclosing my status to one guy he responded “that is okay, I will just wear two condoms”.  Hearing that comment I felt “less than… like a person with no real value.”  We went on to date for almost two years.  How about that?

In my own brokenness I wanted his love and affection so desperately that I took what I could get. Eventually, I grew to dislike him and we broke up. As the years have gone by I have dated guys that were both HIV positive and HIV negative.   To my fortune I have not encountered rejection.  What I have found is that few guys have initiated a conversation about HIV.  I have always been the one to bring it up first. I still fear rejection as well as being stigmatized. But ironically, this fear has also helped me to grow.

To locate  an HIV or STD testing site near you text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948). You also can call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) for assistance in locating a testing site.


Ronald Wadley resides in Chicago, IL and is a Contributor to healthyblackmen.org. He’s a veteran Financial Planner, avid traveler, and was diagnosed with HIV since 2001.    


  1. David

    January 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Happy New Year Ronald! just a note to say that all is well and looking forward to a bless year. I hope all is well with you too. my prayer are with you and that God will give us both strenght to take on whatever comes our way. Be bless

    David J.

  2. Ronald Wadley

    December 25, 2012 at 1:22 am

    David, thank you for responding. I am pleased that you were indeed touched. David, we are stronger than we can ever imagine. I pray that your test does come back negative, however, in either case please do not allow the diagnosis define you or your worth. Continur to live your life with integrity and love and everything else will fall in place as time goes on. Also thank you for the compliment.

    Wishing you well always.

  3. David

    December 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Ronald, Thank you for sharing your story with me it touched my heart and gave me something to think about. I don’t know how it feel to be a HIV postive male. I can share with you that I had to be tested to see if I had HIV or not. I only hope and prayed if I should get it would my friends treat me different and yes it should not matter if I had it or not if my friends are really my friends. So Thank you from the heart for sharing with me and as a handsome man like you any man would and should be bless to have you in their life I know I would be.

  4. Allen Luther Wright

    December 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    There’s nothing more beautiful than the truth — and that smile of yours. Big hugs!

  5. denise wadley miller

    December 2, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Ronald, I applaud you for finding the strength to share your experience with others. While I’m sure this was not an easy task you did it!!! And that sez alot. As your sister I LOVE YOU and appreciate and respect you for sharing this part of your life with others.

    Denise Wadley-Miller

  6. Lora

    December 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Thank you Ronald for being you. This authentic and loving piece demonstrates and reminds me that the truth does set us free. I am so blessed by your words and inspired by your courage.

  7. Ronald Wadley

    December 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Corrina K…my dear sister. The unwavering support that you give me is amazing. I love you with all my heart.

  8. Ronald Wadley

    December 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Robert…you were first love of my life. You never have to apologize for our 19 years together. We built an amazing life together and today you are my best friend. Thank you for your friendship, love and continued support.

  9. Keith

    December 2, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Thank you so much for sharing, Ronald. I think that most people can relate to feeling like “damaged goods” following an HIV positive diagnosis (I know that I certainly can), but many never find the strength or courage to move beyond it. You’ve done so in a way that is an inspiration to us all. May God continue to bless and keep you, and may you find the love and companionship that you deserve!

    Love ya man!!!

  10. Corrina K

    December 2, 2012 at 12:44 am

    “Courage may be the most important of all virtues b/c without it is impossible to practice any other virtue consistently”-Maya Amgelou… you need to have courage to love, to have faith, to hope… “There is no substitute for the truth, either it is or it isn’t”-India Arie
    You are a virtuous man… I love you, dear heart, Smooches, CK..

  11. Sam Williams

    December 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    This very good, and because one has be diagnos with HIV does not make then less of a person because of a illness. Everyone desserves to be Happy.

  12. Robert Laws

    December 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I love you, I wish I was a better man to you during our 19 years together. You have always been upstanding, I will always be your bff and would be your lover again.

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