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Disclosure to friends

Whether to tell your friends about your HIV diagnosis will depend upon your relationship with them. Often, confiding in a good friend can be an invaluable source of support.

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

Friends can be as close as your family, or even closer. If you haven’t shared much personal information with friends in the past you might not want to tell them about your 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.

It is important to think about how they might react. You may have friends who are already knowledgeable about HIV and others who know less; so it is important to be prepared for any reaction.

Deciding which friends to tell might also depend upon culture. In some cultures HIV is something which is hard to talk about because of the fears people have about it or the myths they believe.

Also, friends from any culture may believe incorrect information about HIV and treat you differently or unkindly. If you think your friend might react like this, it may be easier for you to get support from an HIV organisation or a support group of other people living with HIV.

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What should I do if my friend reacts badly?

Sometimes people become upset and have exaggerated worries about what your HIV diagnosis means for your health.

They may also be concerned about the risk of the virus passing to them. So it can be a good idea to have leaflets to hand to give to them so they feel reassured. You could download our Understanding HIV leaflet or The Basics range of information published by NAM.



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  • Friends are great adviser to us, they are the support system of my life. But always make sure that person should be reliable and trustworthy to whom you are sharing your secrets.

    Posted 06:49 Thu 25 Jul 2013

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 9/3/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 9/3/2018

Content Author: Kerri Virani

Current Owner: Health Trainers

More information:

NAM: The Basics