Receiving an HIV diagnosis is definitely a life changing moment. Even when the infection caused by this virus is perfectly controllable with medications, knowing the news that you have a chronic disease is always shocking and many times, you need a few days in order to take it all in. 

Once you’ve processed this information and accepted the idea that this is the new reality you will live in, you find that you have to make a decision regarding a next step: who should I (or want to) tell about my diagnosis?

To tell you or not to tell you? That is the question

We cannot deny that, even though there is increasingly more available information regarding HIV infection, there are also many prejudices on what isn’t true. This can affect the way your loved ones respond to the news about you having the infection. 

So then, the decision to share your diagnosis or not, is yours along. It is private health information and no member of the health staff should disclose it to anyone other than yourself, no matter how close they may be.

The next thing to consider is why would you want to share your diagnosis with certain people. For example, if you’re in a steady relationship, it’s likely that you’ll want to talk to him or her so they may also get tested and thus ensure that you will both receive the necessary medical attention. 

Family and friends

The rest of your close circle, such as your immediate family, extended family, friends or colleagues from work, represent a series of individual decisions to make. It’s very likely that you may need to feel their support and love, but take into account that each person may react differently; even though they may love you very much, they could have an initial sense of fear or denial, just as it happened to you when you received your diagnosis. 

If you add to this that there may be questioning about your sex life or substance abuse, the conversation may become even more tense. First of all, it’s important that you feel prepared to face these questions, and that you know up to what point will you want to provide explanations on these aspects of your private life. 

Seeking help is fine

It’s convenient that you review your social circles and identify those people who you feel you can count on to talk about your diagnosis (and keep in mind that the fact you may trust them does not guarantee a good result when facing this situation). If, for any reason the fear of telling your loved ones is too much, you can always look for a self-support group where other people with HIV go and there you will find the support of those who already have experience in the process.

The important thing is that you know that this path, living with HIV, doesn’t have to be lonely. Whether it be with your loved ones by your side or next to strangers who will become loved ones, seeking a little bit of help will let you find the support and accompaniment that will lighten the emotional load of knowing you tested positive. 
At AHF we are with you every step of the way and link you to treatment in case of a positive diagnosis. We are here to help you in those moments. Visit us or write us via WhatsApp for more information.

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