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Q: I'm a single woman in my 40s, and I have spent the holiday season without any “special someone.” I have friends and family, but it's just not the same. Valentine's Day is coming up and I will likely be alone yet again. I have been set up by a few friends recently and have some upcoming blind dates. Do you have any advice on how can I get through another holiday alone if I have to?

– F.D., Ken-Ton

A: My first suggestion would be to stay social. Be open to meeting new people and make your mark on the social circuit. Being single doesn't mean you have to be lonely. If you are invited to a party, go. Keep your activities diverse and cultured with live music or art openings, and continue to expand your circle of friends.

Take some time to spoil yourself. You have years left to invest, save and scrimp. For the moment, indulge in the sport of shopping for yourself, get a manicure, a new haircut, or sign up for a gym membership. If you have the means to look and feel your best, now is the time. Confidence is key to attracting potential love interests.

Being on your own also allows you flexibility and freedom to do as you please, so take this time to travel, catch up with old friends, and spend time with family.

Dating with HIV

Q: How long do I wait to inform someone I'm dating that I am HIV positive? I contracted the virus a few years ago from my ex-wife who cheated on me and I have been single ever since out of fear of being rejected due to the potentially deadly consequences of having this condition. Part of me thinks I should just not date at all, and spare myself or anyone else the pain. Do I deserve to love again? Can people who are HIV positive have happy and loving relationships? Please help.

– A.A., Buffalo

A: Of course you deserve to love again. However, your medical situation will obviously make it more difficult. The best time to tell someone about the virus is when you feel like there is potential for a real romantic relationship. Definitely tell someone before you become intimate in any way. I don't think you need to announce it on the first date, but don't wait too long.

Talk to your doctor about your concerns, of course, but talking with a therapist could also be beneficial. Unfortunately, you likely will face some rejection due to your condition, and you need to be mentally and emotionally prepared for this.

However, there are people out there who will be able to look past it. It's important to understand the risks and to be able to educate potential partners about your disease and how to prevent the spread of it if you do wish to become intimate.

Over the last few decades, many strides have been made to prevent the development of HIV into full-blown AIDS, and a lot of people live long and relatively healthy lives with proper medical care.

All relationships pose challenges. Being in one as an HIV-positive partner poses unique issues beyond safer sex that you should continue to research. Your doctor and therapist can help you find resources.

Patti Novak welcomes your relationship questions. Email her at pattinovak@gmail.com and please include your initials and hometown.