Do’s and Dont’s: Telling Others You Are HIV+
If you’re HIV-positive, it can be very scary to tell others you’re carrying a life-threatening virus. The virus that causes AIDS – a disease still stigmatized by society. Telling others you’re HIV-positive is known as ‘disclosure’. It’s good to know what to say, who to tell and who not to tell.
DO… get some counseling to help fight stigma
Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma and negative feelings associated with HIV/AIDS. So people’s reactions could be extreme when you tell them. This is the first thing you need to know while deciding to disclose your HIV positive status. You get might feel guilty, ashamed and even unworthy of living. But keep in mind that it could happen to anyone and it’s not your fault. If people react negatively, it’s good to remember that this is just one person. Not everyone will have the same reactions. And keep it mind that hearing your status might scare them. They may come around later on. Give them some time to digest the information. They might need it, just like you did.
DO… tell your partner
The one important person you will have to own up to is your partner, especially if the two of you are having sex without a condom. It’s important to tell your partner for two reasons: they could also be infected and should get tested as soon as possible to find out.
Secondly, if you are having unprotected sex, you could infect them, or, if they are positive already, re-infect them. You should prepare yourself for your partner’s reaction. They may be angry, sad, scared, or maybe they will even want to break up with you straight away. Give them some space and time to digest the information; it will be difficult for them, just like it was hard for you. If you are scared of telling your partner, or you don\’t know how to, you can ask a VCT-counsellor for help. Most of them can either give you tips, or they can do it together with you.
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