This is a difficult decision to make because disclosure (telling others about your HIV status) can have significant consequences. Consider the benefits as well as the possible negative consequences that disclosure may have for you as an individual.
Disclosure can help you to accept your own HIV positive status and can also help you to access the medical services, care and support that you need. Openness about your HIV positive status may make it easier to negotiate responsible sex and to prevent others from being infected.
Disclosure can cause problems in relationships (with your spouse, partner or lover, family members or friends) and some people may judge you. It can be especially challenging to disclose your status to someone you’ve previously had condom-less sex with. They may need to undergo an HIV test themselves.
Plan ahead before you disclose your HIV status so that you can feel in control of the process. Think about who you will tell and how, when and where you’ll tell them.
It may be better to disclose gradually – to your partner, or to one trusted friend or to one member of your family you feel especially close to – rather than to everyone at once.
Ask how much they know and understand about HIV. This will help you to decide what you need to tell the person and how to tell them. Being prepared will make disclosure less difficult for both of you. Remember that many people are ignorant about HIV and may need additional information to help them understand your circumstances.
When you do disclose your status to anyone, remind them that this information is deeply personal and cannot be shared with others without your consent.
Many men find it very difficult to tell a sexual partner or lover that they are positive because they fear rejection.
It is often easier to tell someone upfront before you have sex with them – if you tell them later they could feel that you betrayed them. Either way, your being HIV positive makes you responsible for never putting anyone else at risk of becoming infected.
Some men find it easier to only have sex with other men who are also HIV positive, but this doesn’t mean they can stop using condoms. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis, hepatitis or genital warts can be very serious for HIV positive men and must be avoided by usingcondoms.
Learn as much as you can about HIV, STIs and sexual health.