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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Three Reasons to Not Reveal Your HIV Status During the Holidays

By Candace Y.A. Montague

November 22, 2011

Enjoy your family time during the holidays. Credit:

Enjoy your family time during the holidays. Credit:

The holiday season is upon us once again. For some it is joyous. For others it is torturous. No matter how you feel about visiting relatives and eating countless plates of food, it is safe to say that the holiday season is not a good time to disclose to your family that you are HIV positive. Here are three simple reasons why:

1. The holiday season is not about you. Yes it is convenient for you to get it all out and tell everyone at one time instead of repeated phone calls but isn't that a tad selfish. Revealing your status during the holidays will inevitably turn the focus to you. Your family will have questions. Lots of questions. They will worry about you. They may cry for you. Enjoy each other's company and the love of your family for now. You can educate them all year long about HIV.

2. It's a festive occasion. The key word here is festive. HIV is not a death sentence but the stigma surrounding it can be. Even discussing HIV/AIDS in general can put a damper on the mood. Your family may have been very supportive in the past but do they know enough about this virus to not freak out when you tell them your status. Some people need a lot of comfort to deal with potentially devastating news. And grandma's cooking is not enough. Holidays are times for making memories not for futile mourning.

3. If you are newly diagnosed, you need to take time to deal with your diagnosis. Any major threat to a person's health can be debilitating to the human spirit. If you haven't confronted the news and put things into perspective yet (like the fact that you will live on with HIV), you are liable to fall apart at any given moment. Anything can trigger that feeling of mourning and sadness and ruin your holiday. Seek counseling to help you cope with your diagnosis (or any other issues) before talking with your family.

Absorb the love, laughter and memories of the holidays and leave your troubles in the yard with the decorations.

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See Also's Just Diagnosed Resource Center
Telling Others You're HIV Positive
More Advice on Telling Others You Have HIV/AIDS

Reader Comments:

Comment by: joe franklin (san francisco) Sun., Dec. 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm UTC
Whereas I can understand why the holidays may not be the best time to reveal status, I feel that this blog entry only reinforces both internal as well as external stigma. Should readers be pointed in one direction or another when to or not to reveal status? How about a supportive stance as things to consider if revealing status?
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Comment by: eleftherios s (volos city greece) Tue., Dec. 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm UTC
i never revealed my hiv status to my family,although im positive for 6 years and the first 4 i was livilg with my mother. i feel good about this,but nowdays my health insuranse is expiring for beein several months unemployed and i just dont want them to find it in the really bad way,who knows whats going to happen,cheers everybody and have a good year!!
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Comment by: carol m (westbrook, ct) Mon., Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm UTC
Excuse me. The holidays are about everyone in the family. This is the time to advise family if you have not already told them and this is the time for your family to bond together and love and give you emotional support. Love yourself. If someone in your family does not love you for who you that is their problem.
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Comment by: Darrell T (New York, NY ) Fri., Dec. 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm UTC
I have to say I found this column absurd, outdated and offensive. It reads like a miss manners column from the 1950s. If you can't be open and forthright with your family, when you're all together, when can you? It seems to me that one person telling anyone else how or when to disclose is a bit presumptuous. We all have different circumstances, temperaments, and needs, and what might work perfectly well for one person may not work for another. I think it's quite irresponsible to post on a site like this that it's selfish to disclose your status to your family at the holidays. Selfish?? There are some people reading these columns who may have no one except their family to turn to for support, and who may be at the breaking point themselves. To advise people to put their needs on the back burner in order to enshrine a holiday picture that Emily Post would approve of is ridiculous. Unless of course, that's what the individual wants to do.

Candace, I don't know whether you're positive yourself, and I think it's just swell that you've received certificates from the Red Cross and master's degrees - however, it seems to me that you have a bit more to learn about diverse people having diverse needs.
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Comment by: Gerard (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) Fri., Dec. 9, 2011 at 2:31 am UTC
I feel not happy with your advice. Many families are strong and resilient enough to be able to cope with disclosures of this kind. For many with HIV undisclosed, this time of the year could particularly be comforting and encouraging. I understand your background and all that, but you put HIV in a particular spotlight which is not god for many with HIV. Many need that little push to realise how precious and sweet their family members are, also understanding HIV. Christmas can be a good time to share together.
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Comment by: Andy Thu., Nov. 24, 2011 at 3:58 am UTC
Thats right people, the Holidays are all about consumption, not love and support! Just keep it inside, I'm sure they won't notice that forelorn look in your eyes or take offense when you cry over Cranberry Sauce! Along with the glorification of serodiscrimination and a double standard in condom usage, this site just keeps piling on the the anti-poz viewpoints!
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D.C. HIV/AIDS Examiner

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC and emPower News Magazine.

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