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An HIV diagnosis is a big shock, and people will deal with it differently. It's common to experience feelings of blame, and these are completely natural and understandable.

Should I be blaming myself?

You might feel that you are in some way to blame for contracting HIV, and that perhaps you did something wrong. For some people these feelings can be overwhelming, and it may feel like they will never go away.

Blaming yourself excessively over a long period of time can negatively affect your confidence and self-esteem.

Although it can be useful to understand why you put yourself in a risky situation and what you might do differently in the future, try not to be too hard on yourself. These feelings are completely normal, and will get better with time.

What if others think it's my fault?

If you have told your family or partner about your HIV diagnosis you may feel the blame for causing them worry. You might feel that members of your family or partner blame you, even if they have not said so. Or it might be that you have directly been blamed for causing them concern, which can be very difficult to cope with.

It may be helpful to try to distinguish between feelings of blame and your own guilt, and to discuss these feelings openly. If you have not already done so, perhaps showing your loved ones a leaflet or web page about HIV, such as What Is HIV?, could help.

A small number of people in England, Scotland and Wales have been prosecuted for transmitting HIV. If you have been accused of deliberately infecting someone, our Law section contains vital information. 

Is it ok to blame others for my HIV?

Immediately after a diagnosis some people may feel very angry, and want to blame whoever infected them with HIV. For other people these feelings might come some time after diagnosis, or not at all. This is likely to depend on how you contracted HIV, and from whom.

Although this can be a normal part of accepting your HIV diagnosis and the feelings will fade, for some people these feelings of anger and blame can be hard to get past. In this case it may be helpful to consider whether it is too difficult for you to accept your own part in how you contracted HIV.

You can ask to speak to a counsellor via THT Direct to help you to deal with these feelings, or you can talk to an Online Counsellor from myHIV.

If you think it's clear that you have been maliciously or carelessly infected, find out what your legal options are.



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