by TG GREEN
How does one disclose to a potential partner that he/she is HIV positive or has an STD? A good way to disclose is in a public setting that is relaxing or private in a space that is special to you. Just ‘being yourself’ lets the person know you are real and that you are honest. Never talk down about your being HIV poz. Keep your head up and show the love for yourself and others by disclosing.
Remember, disclosing will be a life long process. Disclosing HIV status before having sex with a partner is the law in some states and countries.
Practice in a mirror. Just like you, the people you tell will need support as well. Don’t expect that, just because you love someone, they will be able to support you after your disclosure. You may need to support them with this new information before they can be there for you. It is a good idea to have a few telephone numbers on hand of places they can go for support.
Groups you will disclose to most often:
- Family – can be painful and you don’t have to disclose to them until it feels ‘right’.
- Friends – easiest.
- Your children – consider their age before you do.
- Husband or wife – hardest, they will have to be tested!
- Doctor – easy but worrisome.
- Work – you do not have to tell. Know your rights!
- Needle users – easy sometimes but you must!
Tips for Disclosing
Many have found that these things worked when disclosing their status:
- Trust your instincts, disclose when you are ready.
- Think about what you’re going to say ahead of time.
- Choose your time and place: don’t be rushed.
- Share with people you trust.
- Use your own words.
- Tell two friends so that they can support each other and not need to lean solely on you.
- If someone has lots of questions, ask her to do her own research. This will ease the pressure on you to “know it all”.
- Ask for what you need: a shoulder to cry on, space to think about it, practical help when you need it.
When should I disclose my HIV status?
With some people, this happens only before sex or intimacy; with other, even before dating. Always when sharing needles.
You are the one responsible for you.
Children should be old enough to understand before being told.
Although there is generally no one ‘right time’, you should tell when you feel ready or when you are legally required to do so. If you haven’t told beforehand (as you should have), tell sex partners as soon as possible so they can be tested because now there is a chance to possibly be functional cured by fast, aggressive treatment by doctors.
Why should you tell?
It’s your duty to disclose under some laws and morally it’s just the right thing to do!
It is very healing and liberating to be totally honest by letting others know your status. Take it slowly—you will be living with HIV for a long time, and your first responsibility is to yourself and to finding the support you need.
Disclosure can be scary, embarrassing, or painful. But frank conversation usually leads to better decisions and better sexual relationships. There is great freedom about telling the truth and letting people know who you really are.
If we disclose when we should and protect ourselves we automatically protect others. This means we slow down the spread of new HIV cases. But this only works through the ones who know that they are HIV+. Have self-respect, love who you are! Get Tested! Know your HIV status!
Please ask questions ..and tell us how you disclose.
- What Really Works to Prevent HIV? (inphasemag.com)
- Op-ed: When Is the Right Time to Tell Your HIV Status on a Date? (advocate.com)
- Should you disclose your HIV status to your partner? (korshiequashigah.wordpress.com)
- Know Your HIV Status (blackamericaweb.com)
- HIV-AIDS non-disclosure should be a crime, study of gay and bisexual men finds (theglobeandmail.com)
- Four Stories: The Effects of HIV Criminalization on Sex and Intimacy (advocate.com)