Telling others your HIV status
People have different reasons for disclosing their HIV status. For some, it may be to get support or health care whilst others might want their sexual partner(s) to know. You might have met somebody and it's getting serious, you're in a relationship or you're in an open relationship. Or, you might be having sex and 'something' comes up ... questions are asked ... or maybe you just feel you need to say something. It could be none of these and something else.
Whatever reaction you get telling others about your HIV status, being HIV positive is nothing to be ashamed of. Hopefully, those you do tell will respond positively but that's not the whole picture: some people will respond negatively and reject you. This often changes with time, particularly if they are up to date with advances in treatment and undetectable = transmissible for example ... and finding out the facts, rather than clinging onto misconceptions, ignorance, and stigmas about HIV.
For some HIV positive gay men, disclosing (telling others) their status can be as stressful or as traumatic as coming out as gay. It is important to think carefully about who you want to tell and why. Once you have told someone about being HIV positive, you cannot take the information back. Coming out is a very personal process and should be your choice.
Obviously, it can feel very natural to want to tell a partner and/ or family immediately but the response may not be what you expect. It certainly doesn’t help to be dealing with other people’s crap while still sorting out your own. If, however, you have decided to come out, the following may be helpful:
- Be aware that telling people may affect you more than you think and they may not react in the way you expect
- People are human: don’t tell people if you don’t want them to tell others
- Try and prepare yourself for the questions they may ask or the issues they may bring up
- Try and choose the right time and place
- Not telling someone about your diagnosis might prevent you getting the medication, support, advice and services you need
Pros and cons of disclosing your HIV status | nam aidsmap
How do I disclose my HIV status to potential partners? | i-base
Disclosing your HIV status | Gay Men Fighting AIDS (GMFA)
Telling sexual partners about HIV | Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)
Things not to say to someone who's HIV positive | BBC 3 | 15 Sep 2016 | 4m 46s
Should I have to disclose that I'm HIV+ if I'm undetectable? | Kings of Reads | 8 Aug 2019 | 13m 11s