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How to disclose status to partner
Feb 2, 2002

I am a 29yr old HIV+ mother of 3. I recently separated from my HIV+ husband/parnter of 11 yrs. I have recently been seeing and HIV- father of 1. We have had protected intercourse on several occassions, but one instance of unprotected intercourse. I'm feeling really guilty about what I may have subjected him to. And the thought of infecting him, is eating me alive. I feel the need to tell him. But I'm hesitant, because I don't want him to hate me and start rumors about me. None of my friends know my status, and I'm not sure how they would handle it. I don't want to lose anyone, especially him. Please help me!!!!!!

Confused and depressed

Response from Dr. Remien

It's hard to imagine how you will be able to maintain an intimate relationship with this man without telling him about your HIV status. I can appreciate the fear and apprehension you have about telling him. Many people in your shoes find it very difficult to disclose. However, it is not something you can go on hiding from someone you are so intimately involved with. This is about honesty and trust between the two of you and most people would say he has a right to know. While you can never really know how a person is going to respond, you'll need to fine out sooner or later. The more time passes without disclosing, the greater the likelihood of anger and mistrust on his part.

When you decide to discuss this with him, let him know that you want him to know the truth because you do trust him and want to be close to him and do not want there to be secrets between you. Also let him know how important it is to you that he treat this as confidential information and that you have no need or desire to have other people know. Again, while there are no guarantees about how others will respond, most people who are positive want to know sooner, rather than later, if a lover or close friend is the type of person who would abandon them or treat them differently because of their HIV status. And in most cases, HIV+ people are pleasantly surprised to find out that people who care about them are accepting and supportive when finding out the news. Remember you there are many things that define who you are - your HIV status is just one of many characteristics and one you need not be ashamed of.


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