You might feel like one of the hardest parts of HIV is having to tell other people about your diagnosis. Disclosure (telling others) is a process and takes a lot of time and consideration. This section will give you some ideas, suggestions, tips, and important knowledge to use as you think about who to tell about your HIV diagnosis. There is no ‘best’ way to disclose but thinking ahead is the first step.
Who to tell?
You do not have to tell everyone about your HIV diagnosis. You may just want to tell some of the people who are closest to you.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you are trying to decide who to tell.
- Who accepts me and does not judge me?
- Who will respect my privacy?
- How will telling affect me or the other person?
- Is there anyone I am obligated to tell?
In most cases you do not have to tell people you are HIV positive. However the law states that people who are HIV positive have to disclose their status before any activity that places another person at significant risk of HIV infection. Examples would be before unprotected sex or needle sharing. Disclosing to sexual partners is also something you need to consider.
You also need to tell your doctors and other medical providers, such as your dentist, in order to get the best care possible.
Tips to use if you decide to tell someone
- Take the time to choose carefully who you tell
- Pick a safe, comfortable place to talk
- Be prepared yourself as you can never know how they will react
- Make sure they understand this is private
- Discuss your plan with someone who already knows and who can support you, this might be someone on your health care team, family member or friend
- Plan ahead