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If you are living with HIV, choosing who to tell can be very difficult; it’s important to think about how other people may react to being told that you are HIV positive. You may feel the urge to tell people straight after your diagnosis, but remember that once you tell someone there is no way of taking that information back from them.

Telling someone about your status can be a very positive experience, but just be prepared for a range of different reactions, and understand that many people do not know a lot about HIV. It’s useful to have to-hand information that can help you teach people about HIV. The Basics range published by NAM is a useful resource.

Friends and family

The nature of your relationships with family and friends can be a big factor in deciding who to tell about your HIV status. Often, confiding in a family member, or good friend, can give you a greater level of support. It can give you a bigger circle of people to talk to if you need to. It is a good idea to get advice from an HIV organisation if you are worried about telling friends and family about your status.

Sexual partners

Your partner may need to have an HIV test; if you have had unprotected sex recently, then they may need to wait for a few weeks before the test will show accurate results. There are a range of different reactions that your partner could have upon hearing about your diagnosis. If you are worried about the way they may react, get in touch with someone in your clinic, or a local support group, to help you approach the situation with confidence.

Employers

Disclosing your HIV status to your employer may not be a good idea if you think it will lead to stigma, discrimination, or a breach of confidentiality. On the other hand, knowing your status will help your employer to make reasonable adjustments to make your condition more manageable whilst at work.

From the day of diagnosis, people living with HIV are protected by the Equality Act (2010), an anti-discrimination law; if you feel you’ve been discriminated against because of your status, then get in touch with your HR department, or a support group, for advice on how to act.