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Who to tell?

who to tell

If you are HIV positive, choosing who to tell can be a difficult decision and it's important to think about how different people may react to being told that you have been diagnosed with HIV.

You may feel like telling people soon after you receive your HIV diagnosis - but remember that once you’ve told someone you can’t ‘un-tell’ them.

How do I choose who to tell about my HIV status?

It is important to think about how different people may react to being told that you have been diagnosed with HIV. Things to think about include:

  • Why do I want to talk to this person about my HIV status?
  • What are the benefits of telling them?
  • Are they good at talking about emotional issues?
  • How would I like them to react ideally?
  • What will I do if they don’t react in the way I expect or hope for?
  • Can I trust them not to tell other people?

How will people react?

Telling someone that you have HIV can be a very positive experience and will hopefully mean that you have someone to offer you support.

But you have to be prepared for different reactions. Some people may become upset at your news, especially if they don’t know much about HIV. It might be useful to have some basic information to hand for them to look at and provide reassurance, such as Understanding HIV published by Terrence Higgins Trust or The Basics range published by NAM. Once people realise you can lead a normal life with HIV, they may be better able to support you.

What support is available if people react badly?

Unfortunately some people may not react in the way you hope and may be unkind or discriminatory. If this happens there is support available to you such as counselling or support groups.

Before telling people it can be helpful to talk it over with a healthcare professional at your clinic.

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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:

Telling people you are HIV positive, NAM aidsmap