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How do I tell loved ones?
Jan 12, 2012

I was just diagnosed, and I haven't told anyone. I'm sad and stressed about the disease, but hopeful. I was exposed about four months before diagnosis. I'm in good shape, smart, interested in health and medicine, with good insurance and a good job... things seem in my favor as much as they can be. Of course, my fear is that I'm about to lose it all.

My biggest stressor is the thought of telling my family. They will be so sad and scared. I'm the "rock" who always helps them, and I can't imagine delivering news that will devastate them. At the same time I feel not telling is a betrayal.

Right now they help me without knowing because when I talk to them it's the only time I'm not thinking about this disease. Once they know I fear I'll have no escape.

One more thing... they all live out of state so timing is a little tricky.

Advice?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis but heartened by your attitude. You have many qualities that will serve you well in managing a long life with HIV. Disclosure to anyone, but particularly, family, is a difficult process. Before doing so, you might want to check out these personal accounts as well as this resource page where you can read about a variety of issues related to disclosure.

I agree that, almost always, our loved ones deserve to know and have a right to their own process in hearing the news. And, in most cases, they really come through for us. You may need to assist them in getting information. They may also look to you for clues as to how they should respond. Logistically, I think it's best to have this conversation face-to-face so that feelings can be discussed as they come up. It sounds like your family is already supportive of one another. Knowing your status would give them the opportunity to be helpful to you.

You note that this would remove your one "escape" from the ever-present weight of the diagnosis. Be certain that you are including support for yourself in your daily life. This could be therapy, a support group, or just sharing with good friends. That is every bit as important as your physical health.

Good luck,

-David



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