It can be an incredibly challenging and emotional experience when disclosing an HIV positive status to close family, friends or a partner. Likewise, the challenges continue when telling other acquaintances such as an employer and work colleagues. There is likely to be a great deal of anxiety about how each person will react and, chances are, each person will react differently. Of course, with regards to your partner, disclosure is incredibly important as that person has also been at risk of infection and should be tested as soon as possible.
Once family and friends have been informed, they will have the opportunity to find out more about HIV and will hopefully be able to offer more support once they are better informed. There is still a fear that HIV and AIDS means that a loved one will die but that is seldom the case now with the treatments available.
There is still a great deal of stigma surrounding HIV and many people still do not understand the virus or how it can and cannot be transmitted. This further complicates the decision to disclose an HIV positive status to friends and family.
There is no easy way to disclose HIV status and every person will have their own way of doing so. It is important that this step is taken at the person’s own pace. Counsellors at STD clinics or a GP can provide support throughout this process. It may also be useful to gain support from someone who has personal experience.