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yelling your family

If you have been diagnosed with HIV you may be thinking about telling family members - but your decision will depend on the relationship you already have with them.

How should I choose a family member to tell about my HIV status?

It may be helpful to ask yourself if the person you want to tell:

  • has been helpful when you talked about problems in the past
  • accepts and loves you
  • respects your privacy
  • is a good listener
  • is practical, sensible and reliable.

Family members may have incorrect information about HIV and treat you differently or unkindly. If you think your family might react like this it may be easier to get some support from an HIV organisation or a support group for people living with HIV.

If you do decide to tell someone in your family, it might be useful to have some leaflets you can show them - people may have exaggerated worries about HIV and having something to read may be reassuring. You could download our Understanding HIV leaflet or The Basics range of information published by NAM.

Will a doctor or nurse tell my family about my HIV status?

Some people worry that if they become unwell and have to be admitted to hospital, the medical staff might disclose their HIV status to their relatives against their will.

Generally doctors wouldn’t disclose someone’s HIV status. They might explain that the person has a condition like pneumonia, for example, without mentioning their HIV infection.

In some situations medical staff might encourage people to disclose their HIV status so they can get support from their family, but they will not force them to do so.

You can find out more about when this might happen with our guide.

What reaction should I expect from my family?

Often people don’t understand the ways HIV can be passed on, or they may feel worried and upset about your health.

They will be reassured to know that you’re getting good care from your HIV clinic and that you know where to get support and how to take care of yourself.

Should I tell my children about my HIV status?

If you are a parent you may be thinking about telling your children that either you or they have HIV. They may be shocked or upset by the news or may not be able to keep it to themselves, and this could cause problems for all of you.

It is a good idea to get some support from a family support worker or an HIV organisation that works with families with children before telling your children. Talk to THT Direct to get more information about useful organisations.

If you’re a member of myHIV, you also talk to an Online Counsellor about your troubles.



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  • when was diagnosed i was depressed and decided to keep it to my self but later realised i ahve my daughter and i told her and she really supports me and happy and belive life has to continue

    Posted 15:28 Thu 13 Sep 2012
  • I been seeing my partner for nearly 8 mouths now and after a few weeks he told me he was hiv+ this didn’t change anything only thing is that I'm worried about telling my mum as I don’t know how she would react I would only tell her if I needed to and my mums support even know I have friends that all ready support me and my partner. My mum pulled me aside the other asking about what’s going on with my partner and why he had to take a pill every night I want be honest but don’t know how she is going to react as me and my mum have both been though a lot over the last couple of years.

    Posted 23:12 Fri 07 Feb 2014

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 10/3/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 10/3/2018

Content Author: Kerri Virani

Current Owner: Health Trainers

More information:

NAM: The Basics.