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

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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.

Many people believe incorrect information about HIV and could treat you differently or unkindly because of it. In some cultures, HIV is something that is hard to talk about because of the fears people have about it or the myths they believe.

It might be a good idea to have some information with you when clearing up those misconceptions. You could download leaflets from NAM's series The Basics.

If you expect negative reactions, it could be easier to get initial support from an HIV organisation or a support group instead.

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

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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 won’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.

Should I tell my children about my HIV status?

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If you’re 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’s 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 on 0808 802 1221 to get more information about useful organisations.

The NAM website also has some useful information on talking to your child about HIV.

Meet new friends – sign up for peer support

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Join our myHIV forum to chat to other people who've been through the same experiences.

If you're based in London, see if our Groupwork service is offering newly-diagnosed groups or other peer support meetings.

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Talking to my best friend about my diagnosis made our relationship stronger, having that support was vital for me.