Gay man’s sister keeps telling friends he’s HIV-positive

DEAR AMY: I am a gay man living in a small town. Years ago, I confided in my sister that I am HIV-positive, and in the ensuing years she has told many of her friends, despite my having asked her not to tell anyone.

Our social circles overlap, so I’ve had to ask these friends not to tell anyone.

My sister apologizes when I make an issue of it, but I am distressed that she does not understand that there are stigma and discrimination out there, and that she has divulged my personal medical records, betrayed my confidence and outed me as gay in the process.

Despite my having made my feelings very clear, my sister continues to tell people.

I have always been a private person, so I continue to feel a great deal of frustration and anger toward my sister. Talking about it with her has proved useless because she thinks I am overreacting.


Do you have any suggestions as to how I can deal with these feelings? She is an otherwise kind, lovely woman who doesn’t mean any harm, but she is clueless and defensive about accepting responsibility for her actions. — Betrayed

DEAR BETRAYED: Your reaction to your sister is too kind by half. Too, too kind.

I find it hard to imagine how an otherwise respectful and lovely woman is unable to comprehend your distress about her behavior. Your sister may not be as kind and clueless as you think, at least in regard to this particular topic.

Re-examining her motives for violating your privacy may bring you some clarity. Her behavior is hostile, and even if her betrayal was unintentional, she should have stopped when you asked her to stop.

You need to accept that your sister has no respect for your privacy or the boundaries that most people place around their health conditions, no matter what they are. Obviously, you should not confide in her again.

This is an ideal issue to explore in therapy. Talking about your family, health and sexuality will help you come to terms with your feelings, which you say is your ultimate goal.

DEAR AMY: I am a twentysomething woman. I play tennis often with my female friends. They usually wear short tennis skirts. After we play, we often go to malls or to restaurants.

I guess it’s OK if they dress however they want for tennis. When they are wearing these tennis skirts in public, though, they seem to let modesty go. They carelessly show their panties while sitting or bending over.


What are the rules of modesty for tennis skirts on the tennis court and in public? — Woman in California

DEAR CALIFORNIAN: Tennis skirts (with their little matching panties) seem fairly benign to me. One look at Venus and Serena Williams would tell you that, fashionwise, anything goes on the tennis court, especially if you have a smokin' hot backhand.

I'm not crazy about sitting next to a gaggle of women at a restaurant who haven't bothered to shower and change after sweating it out on the tennis court. Otherwise, my own view on fashion is that unless an outfit scares the horses and the children, then to each her (or his) own.

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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