HIV can only be transmitted in certain ways; therefore if you receive a positive diagnosis for HIV you don’t have to tell anyone.
When you tell someone that you are living with HIV it is called ‘disclosing your HIV status’.
Some people will already know:
- The person providing your Rapid HIV test will know your result; they cannot tell anyone else without your informed and specific consent.
- The doctor (and possibly the nurses) at the testing centre will know. They are not obliged to tell anyone else. In fact your result is your personal information and cannot be given to someone else without your permission.
- Any doctor or consultant you are referred to will know. This is because if you need to be referred it will be because of your HIV status. For example: if you received your HIV diagnosis from the Maternity hospital then you will be referred to the University Hospital Limerick for your HIV blood checks. The doctor at the STI clinic will be informed of your diagnosis but no-one else will be.
No-one needs to know unless you want them to know.
No-one other than your medical care team needs to know about your HIV diagnosis.
Your boss does not need to know. Living with HIV is not something you have to disclose to your employer. They cannot fire you for because you are living with HIV. In most cases you cannot cause HIV transmission by doing your job.
You might like to think about how to negotiate the extra time you may need for blood tests and health checks. Once the first three months after your diagnosis has passed your medical care team will have a clear idea of your health status and whether you need medication or not.
There may be someone you feel you want to tell.
Deciding who, how and why to tell someone you are living with HIV is often a difficult decision but it is always your personal decision to make.
- You may want to tell your family
- You may want to tell your partner
- You may want to tell your friends
Telling your partner you are living with HIV is very different from telling your family or friends. A sexual relationship can also involve risk of HIV transmission, whereas a social relationship rarely involves a risk of HIV transmission.
Think carefully before telling someone.
Once you have told someone you cannot take it back. You will always be living with HIV and they will always know it.
When someone hears a disclosure of HIV they can react in many ways. Some common reactions are anger, shock, worry, tears, concern, and questions. A positive reaction can help you to feel supported, understood, and not alone. A negative reaction may leave you more isolated and unsupported.
Disclosing your HIV status involves a lot of trust and, sometimes, a great deal of courage. If you would like to talk to someone about ‘disclosing your HIV status’ you are welcome to contact us.