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Telling Others You Have HIV

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After being diagnosed with HIV, one of the toughest decisions you'll face is who to tell about your status. Friends, family, lovers, coworkers: How do you decide, and what's the best way to break the news?

There is no "right" way to disclose your HIV status. It all depends on the situation and how you get along with the people you're thinking about telling. Check out this list for some excellent information that will help you decide to whom and how and when to tell friends and loved ones that you have HIV.




George Burgess

George Burgess
Diagnosed in April 1995

"I think my dad had the best response when I told him I was HIV positive: 'Son, I love you. We'll get through this.' A soldier, true to his heart. You know, a soldier with compassion: 'We'll get through this, son. What do we need to do?'"

Read more about George or watch a video of him.

Read about how other people disclosed their HIV status.

Wise Words: Guidance on Disclosing Your HIV Status


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Preparing to Tell Others You're HIV Positive
Telling others you're HIV positive is not something you rush into. There are important personal steps to take before disclosing your status to others.


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Telling Others You're HIV Positive
There are plenty of pros and cons to disclosure. This article provides some general guidelines about specific people you may want to tell.


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Disclosure and HIV
Disclosure means telling someone that you are living with HIV (HIV+). Sharing your HIV status can help with the stresses of living with HIV. But whom to tell and how to tell them can be complicated and difficult decisions.


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Talking With Your Children About Your HIV Status or Your Children's Status
When thinking about talking to your children about your HIV status -- or their status -- remember what you already know about your family: how your children learn new information, and what feels best for your family. There's no right way, but here are some steps to prepare.

More links:

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TheBody.com's Just Diagnosed Resource Center
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Steve (St. Louis, MO) Tue., Nov. 6, 2012 at 9:18 am EST
My now Ex-Girlfriend and I have broken up. She is threatening to tell all my friends and family that I have HIV, and is calling me gay because of my past actions. I got HIV from gay/bi activities, so it isnt all false, however, I dont wish to have this disclosed to anyone other than my doctors. I am not ready to deal with telling people that I am POZ, despite being so since '04. She is basically blackmailing me, telling me "You will do this, or You will do that, or I will tell your friends and family". I told her long before we ever started dating, and even before our first kiss that I had HIV, so it isnt a case of her finding out after the fact. I admitted to being with men 1-on-1 when she got to asking me questions. My honesty with her, makes me realize it is NOT SAFE to tell anyone of your HIV status, even if you believe in your heart that it is. No matter how "in love" you believe you are, things can fall apart, and you will likely regret it when you do. I dont know, if I ever find another woman, I may not tell her I am POZ, until we are about to get married. I dont care what the law says.... I am currently undetectable, and have been for years. My CD4 count is back up over 800.
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Comment by: Angie (Ga) Sun., May. 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm EDT
HEY IM A LESBIAN AND IVE BEEN MARRIED TO MY WIFE LEGALLY FOR A FEW MONTHS AND I RECENTLY FOUND OUT IM HIV POSITIVE. MY PROBLEM IS IM AFRAID TO TELL MY WIFE BECAUSE SHE IS VERY JUDGMENTAL AND WONT UNDERSTAND AND LEAVE. MY OTHER PROBLEM IS I WANT TO KILL MYSELF SO NO ONE WOULD EVER KNOW AND I WOULDNT GIVE IT TO ANYONE. IM AFRAID CAN SOMEONE HELP?
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Comment by: johnathan (Boston,MA) Mon., Feb. 28, 2011 at 8:07 am EST
I recently found out about a month ago. Although I was shocked,I had nothing but positive feedback from all health care professionals.I remained strong.I did tell a few select people that I knew would be great support. I'm ok and i'm going to continue to be ok. I guess it could be worse. and i look forward to the future.i strongly believe in the next ten years we will have a cure!!!!
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Comment by: fatima (europe) Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 7:02 pm EDT
i want to ask our god and hevenly father that he send a cure to solve this problem in this our generation i am a biliver of christ and i know that one day there will be a great change for us all.
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Comment by: JAY (HOUSTON, TX) Mon., Jun. 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm EDT
AFTER HAVING BEEN POZ FOR 12yrs AND MY FAMILY NOT BEING TOLD, I FINALLY DECIDED TO DISCLOSE MY SITUATION. THOUGH I'M POZ, I'M IN EXCELLENT HEALTH AND ALL OF MY "NUMBERS" ARE VERY GOOD. THE FIRST THING OUT OF MY MOTHERS MOUTH WAS "YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT YOU'VE ALLOWED US TO EAT AND DRINK AFTER YOU WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING?" THE CONVERSATION WENT ON FROM THERE...NEEDLESS TO SAY, I FEEL LIKE THIS WAS ONE OF THE WORST DECISIONS IN MY LIFE. I COULD HAVE CONTINUED ON "IN THE CLOSET" AND SAVED MYSELF A BUTT LOAD OF DEGREDATION AND IGNORANCE. EVEN AFTER EXPLAINING MY "EXCELLENT" CONDITION, IT STILL REALLY SEEMED TO NOT BE UNDERSTOOD. SO, I WOULD APPROACH THIS SUBJECT WITH GREAT AND DEEP THOUGHT, AS WELL AS BEING PREPARED FOR THE RESPONSE YOU MAY RECEIVE FROM THOSE WHO "LOVE" YOU. AND DON'T LET YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS GAIN THEIR INFORMATION FROM WHAT I TERM AS "HOO-DOO GOO-ROO" BOOKS. HAVE INFORMATION FOR A RESOURCE SUCH AS THIS ONE READY TO GIVE EDUCATE THEIR FAMILY PROPERLY. GOOD LUCK!
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Comment by: Paul H (London UK) Tue., Jan. 19, 2010 at 10:10 am EST
I served in the Army and we were always told 'need to know basis' all the time.

If you tell someone about your HIV you can NEVER 'untell', you tell for EVER.

I suggest NEVER to tell anyone, unless it is absolutely necessary.
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Comment by: Desert Dog (Phx) Tue., Jul. 28, 2009 at 3:12 am EDT
I found out I was HIV+ after becoming damn sick, I mean pain all over my body, every joint moved was nothing but pain, chills, fever, headaches....It totally sucked.... I ended up in the ER in late Jan of 09 for what was called liver blockage. The first day it was confirmed I had Hep B, second day came, test confirmed HIV+. The doctor at the ER was pretty surprised on my reaction to all of this. I was really calm about it and to tell the truth was not too surprised. I asked him what was next for me? What do I have to do? What do I have to take?... Listen up people....I did this to myself, I knew better, I'm educated...The needles were not clean...Get it... It does not matter....You take a risk....You pay the price... That is all it took...I won't let this get me down or stop me from enjoying my life. It's all about being proactive, thinking positive, and following through. My wife is (-) and is being tested through the same clinic and being seen by my doctor as well. We practice safe sex which is new to both of us, which I won't have it any other way, I need to protect her... I want to thank her in supporting me, loving me, and really wanting to get back together... We separated Dec of 08 and recently are back together...I love you babe...And esp. to my daughters...Oh, do my daughters know, only of the Hep B... Will I ever tell them? Maybe, maybe not. Could I use this as an example for them not to follow in risk taking?..Yes...There will be a day...
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Comment by: Dawn Stiefeld (Phx) Sat., Jun. 27, 2009 at 2:17 am EDT
I found out I was HIV+ just 4 months after meeting a man who I finally connected with. I wanted to push him away for his sake..you know keep him( -)as for I didnt want to be responsable for another person's life. Well it's a year later and we're stronger than ever, the only down side is he is overprotective of my health and that drives me nuts...! I am a healthy 42 year old and the results are just that..results and my life goes on strong. I have a better understanding of the virus and have opened my mind to new methods of care. I couldn't have done this without this wonderful man by my side!
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Comment by: sandra (lebanon) Tue., Feb. 3, 2009 at 2:46 am EST
i got married 6 months ago,and recently we found out that my husband has hiv+,& im - for the time being,and will be retested after 6 month.im not scared at all even if i have that disease too,its just a virus..if we take care of out health nothing wrong will happen.
.i love my husband and i will always be his supportive.none of our families know and i dont think that i will tell them,its something private.i dont bame my husband for that and i wont,i will always be by his side in good and bad.im sure that life wont stop,and we will live our lives happily taking care of our health.i consider 1 thing has changed that we started to use condoms...yeah..i think positively,im not scared and wont be..maybe god has chosen us because we are special..
everyday i love my husband more and more..if im hiv+ too,i decided not to bring babies knowing that there is a way to have a baby with hiv-,i wont have a baby because i dont want to divide my love between my baby and my husband.i want to give him everything..
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