Seeds of Hope

Should I Tell My Ex That I'm Sick?


[Posted on July 28, 2001]

Rev. Turner:

I am Alex and I am originally from Costa Rica. I am 35 year old and a gay man. I came to the United States 3 years and 4 months ago. My relationship with God has not been really good even though I was raised in a Christian home. I always felt to far from God probably because I was already struggling with being gay, you know with all those sermons about being gay. Anyway, I decided to come out of the closet when I was 20 and everything became worse. I think because I started looking for somebody to love in the wrong way in the wrong places. I found people that just wanted to have sex and not healthy relationships. In my search for somebody I started being promiscuous which I know now it is not a good thing and regret that so much.

I am feeling so lonely and confused. I met a guy 4 months ago. We just see each other to have sex even though I wanted to have something more serious with him. I kept doing what he wanted me to do. When I told him that I wanted more than that he said that he was not ready for a relationship so I broke up with him. After that I begun feeling very sick, at first I thought that was because I was very sad which I really was but I started feeling worst so I went to the doctor. After some blood tests he told me that I had hepatitis B. Since then I have been very sad and confused. I was wondering if I got this from this guy or someone before him. I was so worried for him I could not forgive myself if I infected somebody. So, anyway I called him to see how he is doing and he seems to be ok but I could not tell him what I was going through. He told me that he was sorry for the way this ended up and he wanted to start all over in the right way and give us a try. I was so happy but I knew that I was sick and did not know for sure if I got it from him or not, and I was thinking also that I was being punished by God.

So I started avoiding him, making excuses for not to see him, although I was dying to be with him so I told him that did not want to see him anymore. I felt bad because I did not tell him the truth and because I still feel something in my heart for him. I am so scared for what is ahead, my health, my relationship with God and with that guy. I will appreciate if wrote to me some answers and advice.

Alex


Dear Alex,

I am very sorry to hear about your challenges. Your story underscores why we need to have more education within the gay community about why our love is not some dirty dark secret. During the advent of AIDS an activist group came up with a very truthful phrase; "Silence=Death". Because you came out late in life and because you had no one to talk compassionately with, you participated in things that put you at risk. You did not obtain this illness because God is punishing you. It was because you did not have enough information on how to protect yourself and others. This is not God, but rather us suffering the consequences of our actions that are ill-informed.

In order to have any kind of relationship with a person it must have open and honest communication. You must tell your former boyfriend what is going on with you. You must practice safe sex regardless at all times with all people. Avoiding him and not talking with him is not helping matters but rather putting more and more people at risk. Hepatitis B is treatable and controllable. While it presents a hassle you do not need to fear for your life, unless you do not take care of yourself and continue the practice of un-safe sex.

God is love and holds that gift out to all creation. Never be ashamed of this love God has given you. It is shame and guilt about our love that causes us to hide and take risks with our lives and others. Remember Jesus said: "You are the light of the world. A town put on a hill may be seen by all. And a burning light is not put under a vessel, but on its table; so that its rays may be shining on all who are in the house. Even so let your light be shining before all, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your God in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

You belong to God and we all make mistakes. We must not live in guilt for those mistakes but rather accept the forgiveness and learn from the experience. My friend, as a child of God you owe it to this man to tell him the truth and give him this information:

Hepatitis B:

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. It's 100 times more infectious than HIV. About 300,000 Americans get hepatitis B each year. Most people recover, but a few become chronic carriers with increased risk of serious problems later, such as permanent liver disease and cancer of the liver.

Symptoms:
Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 6 weeks after contact. They can include poor appetite; nausea; vomiting; headaches; general malaise; jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin); dark, tea-colored urine; and light-colored stools. Even without symptoms, you can pass the virus to others. Chronic carriers carry the hepatitis B virus for the rest of their lives and unknowingly pass it to their sex partners.

Testing:
Routine testing is not usually indicated unless the patient is symptomatic from jaundice or has had recent sexual exposure to someone with hepatitis. Sometimes, serological testing is done as part of a hepatitis B vaccination program. However, if you've already had hepatitis B, you don't need to be vaccinated. Remember that 90% to 95% of people who have hepatitis B will fully recover.

Treatment:
For acute hepatitis B, treatment includes rest and diet. There are some new treatments for chronic hepatitis, including interferon. If your sex partner or a member of your household is found to have hepatitis B, you should consult your doctor or healthcare provider and get immunized. Immunization may include hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccination series.

Prevention:
Like acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the hepatitis B virus is spread through contact with infected blood or body fluids. You can get hepatitis B from vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. It also can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. To minimize your risk of contracting hepatitis B, do not share needles or syringes, or instruments used in ear-piercing, tattooing, or hair removal. Do not share toothbrushes or razors. If you have sex, reduce your risk by using condoms. If you are infected, avoid sex and other close contact, such as kissing, until your doctor says it's okay. Hepatitis B is the only sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be effectively prevented by a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends vaccination for all newborns in order to prevent infection of hepatitis B later on. The vaccine is highly effective and should be strongly considered. Check with your doctor to find out if you should be vaccinated against it.

http://www.unspeakable.com/facts/hepatit.html

http://www.hon.ch/Library/Theme/Hepatitis/

God Bless,

Pastor Paul



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Rev. Turner is Sr. Pastor at Gentle Spirit Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you are seeking guidance and pastoral care on your journey to fullness as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person, please contact Pastor Paul directly at pastorpaul@whosoever.org.