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Is It Moral to Date an HIV+ Person?

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JASKN
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Is it ever moral to begin dating someone who is infected with HIV, as opposed to being in love and remaining with someone who somehow contracts it?

Dating involves "lower" feelings about another person, not full-fledged love, but of course has positive qualities. HIV has no cure and is eventually fatal, but contraction can effectively be prevented, though not "100%" of the time (this is determined by many factors).

What are things you would consider when deciding to date or not? What would you ultimately decide? Would you decide to be sexually active with the HIV-positive person?

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Does someone having a medical condition which may be terminal change their values? Is it moral to love someone with one leg because they can't be as productive as someone with two? What if the HIV positive person was infected by blood transfusion, or by a cheating spouse they didn't know they couldn't trust?

Why does someone's physical health have their potential to change their value to another person?

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Is it ever moral to begin dating someone who is infected with HIV, as opposed to being in love and remaining with someone who somehow contracts it?

I think the latter choice is much more likely to be self-immolating (and therefore immoral)! After all, you do not just "somehow" contract HIV -- unless one works in the medical professions (in which case an accidental needle stick can transfer the virus from a patient to a doctor or nurse, but even this is quite rare), one gets it through unprotected sex with someone else (a no-no unless the couple has agreed to a nonexclusive relationship) or through IV drug use. I, for one, could not imagine sticking by someone who did either of those things while in a relationship with me.

As for beginning to date someone with HIV, why would that be immoral? While it is still an incurable infection, modern medications have turned HIV into a chronic disease for most patients, rather than the swift killer it used to be -- and when couples practice safe sex, the HIV-negative partner can remain negative for years. Of course when evaluating the person as a potential mate, you would have to weigh the possibility of your becoming infected as well as how important it is to you to be able to have unprotected sex along with his or her other qualities. But if the person is otherwise compatible with you, I think it would be a mistake to dismiss him or her out of hand just for being HIV positive.

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one gets it through unprotected sex with someone else (a no-no unless the couple has agreed to a nonexclusive relationship) or through IV drug use. I, for one, could not imagine sticking by someone who did either of those things while in a relationship with me.

Not exavtly.

1) Rape is usually unprotected sex. One can get it that way, too.

2) Though contact with someons else's blood outside the medical profession is rare, it's not unheard of. You could get it while helping out at the scene of an accident.

3) Condoms are not 100% effective. They can break and they can leak. You can get it that way, too.

4) Blood and blood procuts are screened, and doctors take precautions to avoid the spread of all infections. But mistakes can be made and you can become infected with HIV through some mistake on a doctor's part, or through bad screening.

5) In poor countries they still use glass syringes and they recycle needles. While these are sterilized, again sometimes there's carelessness or negligence.

Being HIV+ is not a moral judgement until you know the source of infection.

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Another way to get HIV: a baby can get it in the birth canal and when the mother is breast-feeding. Though the risks of this are significantly reduced now with developments in healthcare, this was a legitimate concern back in the day.

I am not sure what is immoral about dating someone with HIV. HIV is the consequence of a certain event. The event should determine whether you date the individual or not.

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I think the latter choice is much more likely to be self-immolating (and therefore immoral)!
I don't know about "much more" likely, but you're right. What I was really trying to ask with that was this: "Is love the only moral precondition to risk contracting HIV from another person?"

As for beginning to date someone with HIV, why would that be immoral? While it is still an incurable infection, modern medications have turned HIV into a chronic disease for most patients, rather than the swift killer it used to be -- and when couples practice safe sex, the HIV-negative partner can remain negative for years.
While this is true, HIV is no walk-in-the-park. Drugs are expensive, and their effectiveness varies. And in the end, HIV eventually takes over, significantly dropping someone's life span.

Does someone having a medical condition which may be terminal change their values? Is it moral to love someone with one leg because they can't be as productive as someone with two?
The point you make isn't the one I'm addressing with this thread. To note, deciding to date someone or not based at least partially on their medical condition is completely expected, so to answer your question, "YES! It does." Especially depending on the nature and severity of the illness. Put another way: it would be foolish dedicate one's life pursuing a profession which no longer holds (or never did hold) economic value. One weighs the factors and then decides if it is worth the "risks" of time and effort, of life.

But I am referring to the HIV-negative side of the dating couple. The potential for contracting HIV is possibly a serious deterrent. When starting to date, one is unsure of the value in the other person as yet. Especially if sex is involved, this turns into a sticky moral situation. How does one determine if the possibility of contracting HIV is worth these particular benefits?

EDIT:

Being HIV+ is not a moral judgement until you know the source of infection.
The event should determine whether you date the individual or not.
I disagree with you here. Say the event was the most immoral: unprotected sex with someone you don't know well. The circumstances could have been "heat of the moment," but more importantly, the offending parties may have now changed their ways. Even when it's not "most immoral," how HIV was contracted and choosing to pursue a relationship knowing that fact is related but different from determining whether dating someone is worth low-risk but high-consequence of contracting HIV yourself. Edited by JASKN
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Not exavtly.

1) Rape is usually unprotected sex. One can get it that way, too.

2) Though contact with someons else's blood outside the medical profession is rare, it's not unheard of. You could get it while helping out at the scene of an accident.

3) Condoms are not 100% effective. They can break and they can leak. You can get it that way, too.

4) Blood and blood procuts are screened, and doctors take precautions to avoid the spread of all infections. But mistakes can be made and you can become infected with HIV through some mistake on a doctor's part, or through bad screening.

5) In poor countries they still use glass syringes and they recycle needles. While these are sterilized, again sometimes there's carelessness or negligence.

Being HIV+ is not a moral judgement until you know the source of infection.

You are right that consensual unprotected sex and IV drug use do not cover 100% of HIV cases -- I would certainly never condemn a person who contracted HIV through rape or a medical mistake. (As for "the condom broke," if I'm in a relationship with that person, that is hardly going to be a sufficient excuse -- what was he doing with that condom with someone else in the first place?) But in this country, where almost all cases of HIV are acquired through sex or drug use, if my partner were to tell me one day that he was positive, he had better have a damn good explanation for how neither of those methods is how he got the disease to keep me from walking out the door. Not because HIV has a moral stigma in and of itself, but because either sex outside the relationship or drug use would be a deal-breaker for me.

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(As for "the condom broke," if I'm in a relationship with that person, that is hardly going to be a sufficient excuse -- what was he doing with that condom with someone else in the first place?)

He was having a relationship with someone else before he met you. That's an important factor to consider.

Not because HIV has a moral stigma in and of itself, but because either sex outside the relationship or drug use would be a deal-breaker for me.

Ok, that's fair.

BTW I don't attach a moral stigma to AIDS. But since we know full well how it's transmited, and since precautionsa re readily available, then anyone who gets it these days by any means other than accident or rape, is acting immorally. The disease itself is no different in principle from other infectious diseases.

Having acquired HIV through an immoral act, though, one can mend one's ways. One should damn well make sure one doens't spread it furhter, too. This does not exclude any kind fo relationship, not even sexual ones, so long as the prospective partners are informed and all due precautions are taken.

I've heard of people who try to get infected with HIV on purpose for some idiotic reason or antoher. I don't know if that is true, but given today's phiosophical climate it wouldn't surprise me too much

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I have never met anyone who actually went looking for HIV. I'm inclined to think the practice is mythical, though I would not be entirely surprised to find otherwise. Some people.

Anywho, the answer to the question ("Is it moral to date an HIV+ person?") is: "It depends, but generally no."

Dating is exploratory. The purpose is to determine whether romance is possible/desirable with this person. Sex is an integral part of romance. HIV is transmitted by, inter alia, sex. If the risk of infection is such that it makes sex undesirable, then romance will likewise be undesirable. Therefore, continuing to date would be dishonest.

The risk of infection can be mitigated by limiting sexual practice to a greater (e.g., abstaining from intercourse) or lesser (e.g., using a condom) extent. These are, nonetheless, limitations on sex (though some, e.g., condom use, may be de minimis limitations), and therefore are limitations on romance. And the risk cannot be eliminated, except perhaps through total abstinence, which would be immoral because it leaves off a critical component of romance. It is not per se immoral to engage a less-than-ideal romance, but to do so at the risk of your life and health demands extraordinary circumstances, to the degree that the risk is not mitigated. (The greater the mitigation of the risk, the less extraordinary the circumstances.)

For example, if you are under some condition that makes romance much more difficult than ordinary (say, for example, you have HIV), then it may be moral to date a person with HIV. Sex between HIV+ persons is still risky (arguably as risky as sex between an infected and non-infected person, because separate HIV strains can cause separate, concurrent infections), but you are in a condition where a less risky romance is practically impossible. Therefore, you are not foregoing a higher value by engaging in a romance where the sex will be risky and worrisome.

But for a healthy, HIV- person under ordinary circumstances, it is immoral to short-change yourself by pursuing a romance with whom sex will be such a dangerous and worrisome activity, and it is immoral to lie to yourself by continuing to date someone with whom sex is undesirable.

I don't think the question of how someone became infected is necessarily relevant to a decision to date. I rather think the overriding factor is the fact of infection, not how it came to be.

~Q

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He was having a relationship with someone else before he met you. That's an important factor to consider.

Oh...I think we've misunderstood each other. JASKN's original question indicated that if someone you were in love with were to somehow contract the disease, then would love be sufficient to outweigh the disease in your evaluation of that person. A relationship with someone else before meeting me is not something I would be upset by; I certainly don't expect to be the first woman my lover has ever come across. But if I were in love with someone, which would presumably be in the context of an exclusive relationship, and he one day came to me and said, "I just found out I have HIV," then that almost certainly means one of three things: 1) he cheated on me; 2) he's been using drugs; or 3) he contracted the virus much earlier, always assumed he was negative, and didn't find out until now. 1) and 2) are completely inexcusable. 3) might possibly be forgivable, but I'd be pretty angry, particularly because I then would have no idea of how long I could potentially have been exposed to the virus without knowing it.

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No. It is not immoral.

Sexual intercourse, worse unprotected sexual intercourse, is essentially suicide - that would certainly be immoral.

But if you "date" them it means you must admire them for their virtue. Granted that virtue won't last very long, but your separation due to death won't destroy anything you got from them.

No value lasts forever.

Hi, I'm new here by the way :)

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No. It is not immoral.

Sexual intercourse, worse unprotected sexual intercourse, is essentially suicide - that would certainly be immoral.

But if you "date" them it means you must admire them for their virtue. Granted that virtue won't last very long, but your separation due to death won't destroy anything you got from them.

No value lasts forever.

Hi, I'm new here by the way :)

1. Welcome!

2. I hope you don't mean all unprotected sex is suicide. E.G. Man and wife.

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