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Telling Others

While understanding and attitudes towards HIV have changed for the better over the years, sharing the fact that you are living with HIV – also known as disclosure – can still be challenging.

Telling your partner, friends or family members that you are HIV positive is not always easy, however providing them with as much information as possible and answering any questions they may have will make the conversation easier and clearer.

Explaining what the virus is and how it affects the body is a good place to start. Talking about treatment and the meaning of becoming undetectable also can alleviate some anxieties and concerns that your partner, family or friends may have about your health and wellbeing.

Fortunately, family, partners and friends can also provide a great source of support and a network that can be there for you when you disclose your status to others. Who you decide to tell and the way in which you approach it, is an individual decision, however here is a list of things that may help you when making that decision:

  • Not everyone is fully informed or educated about HIV. Keep this in mind when you decide to disclose and consider sharing some insights so that the person gets a better understanding of what HIV means today.
  • When you disclose, you have shared that information indefinitely. So if you think the person may not react well, perhaps rethink the decision or consider a better time to tell them.
  • If it feels more comfortable, perhaps rehearse a standard opening line that helps break the ice when disclosing. This may open up a natural flowing conversation.
  • It is ok to ask the person to keep it confidential, however accept that they may need to talk to someone about it for support. If you suspect this may be the case, ask them to be careful who they tell or suggest someone they could reach out to for that support.
  • It can be difficult to tell the children in our lives that we have HIV.
    Explain things in simple ways so that it is easy for them to understand what it is like to be living with HIV and not to worry for you.
  • It is important to note that there are some situations where you may be legally required to disclose. Find out more here: afao…/hivandthelaw as well as HALC.

The above information is adapted from the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations website, afao.org.au