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If you have been diagnosed with HIV, you probably feel stressed. There is a lot to think about. Questions like these may be going through your mind: How will you get the health care you need? How will having HIV impact your life? How will your family and friends react?
One challenge you will face is deciding who to tell about your HIV status. If you can do so safely, you should talk to your current and past sexual partners or people who you shared needles with. If you cannot tell them yourself, the health department in your area can notify your contacts without giving your name. You should also tell your doctors. You might also consider sharing your status with certain family members, friends, and children.
It may be hard to know if telling certain people will bring good or bad outcomes. You might fear that friends or family would leave you, or that you would face discrimination. You might worry about being judged or feel guilty about past drug use or sexual behavior. In some situations, revealing your status could put you at risk of physical harm. Since some people may not be as accepting of your HIV status, these are all valid issues to think about.
By opening up about being HIV-positive, you can get support, information, and acceptance. For example, you can talk to other women with HIV about your symptoms and fears. You can get emotional support, and you won't have the burden of keeping this secret. A support network can help you deal with the stresses of having HIV and help you to feel less alone.
Taking these steps can help you figure out whom you want to tell:
Deciding who to tell may take a short time or a long time. There is no right way to do this. It is a very personal choice that only you can make.
When you tell someone that you're HIV-positive, they may also need support. Be ready with information that people can read, phone numbers for support groups, and contact information for other people in your support network.
A major concern for mothers with HIV is whether to tell their kids about their HIV and when and how they will do it.
Here are some tips for talking to your kids about your HIV status:
Content last updated: July 01, 2011.