How to disclose your HIV positive status to someone you love
Making the decision to disclose your HIV status to someone, even someone close to you, can be scary. Just know that you don’t have to be afraid choma. Just the decision alone is brave and powerful. Before I even give you advice on it choma, know that it’s okay to disclose your HIV status no matter what. You have the right not to be stigmatised or discriminated.
If you’ve just been diagnosed and feel confused about the terms HIV and AIDS, or if you’re worried about the myths surrounding HIV and AIDS, you can read this article: 9 questions you may have about HIV.
You can also read Dr Sindi’s article that will help you understand more about what happens if you discover that you are HIV-positive.
If you haven’t tested for HIV yet and only suspect that you’re HIV positive, then get tested first. You can get tested at your nearest clinic. It’s a quick and painless test choma and there should be healthcare professionals available to give you counselling. You can read all about what happens when you get tested here.
When you make the decision to disclose your HIV status know that it is not something that you need to be ashamed of. Read on for more advice on how to approach it choma.
Be sure that you want to do it
You have the right to your privacy and choosing to disclose your HIV status to someone is your choice. But like I said choma, you also have the right to disclose your status and not be discriminated for it. You might want to take some time to think about who you want to tell.
They might be your sexual partner who you feel has a right to know so that you can openly discuss taking the necessary precautions when it comes to sex.
They may be your best friend who you want to share everything with.
They may be your family members whose support and love you need.
Regardless of who the person you’re disclosing your status is, you need to be comfortable with telling them so that you are better prepared for whatever the outcome may be.
Be aware of the possible outcomes
Because HIV is not always openly discussed, many people still don’t understand it. Some people still battle to understand how it is spread. You could have been born with HIV, you could have been infected through sexual intercourse or from sharing a needle with an infected person. None of these are reasons for you to be discriminated against.
Someone who doesn’t understand HIV might immediately victimise or shame you for being HIV positive. This is extremely hurtful so you need to be aware of the fact that not everyone will react well. You might have to give the person some time. Even if the situation doesn’t go the way you’ve hoped, move on without letting the situation negatively affect you. You may know better than the person that you’re capable of living a long and healthy life filled with love and support.
Something to remember choma is that living with HIV doesn’t give you any less rights than anyone else. The South African Constitution has a Bill of Rights that protects all people. You have the right to live your life with respect, dignity and freedom from discrimination and blame.
Also remember that just because one person reacts badly, doesn’t mean everyone will.
If the main reason that you want to disclose your HIV status is because you need to get it off your chest, then maybe you should start by disclosing your status to a healthcare worker, counsellor or someone trained to help people living with HIV cope emotionally.
It’s important to surround yourself with support, because there is support available out there choma, you are not alone.
One number you could call is the AIDS helpline and their number is 0800 012 322.
You could also call HIV911, which is an organisation that has a directory of HIV services in South Africa. They should be able to provide you with more services and contact numbers. Their number is 0860 448 911.
If you’re feeling down or depressed and need to talk to someone urgently, contact LifeLine for help: 0861 322 322.
At the end of the day, how you treat yourself is what’s most important. Living with HIV is not a death sentence, it’s a manageable disease and you can look forward to living a healthy life if you take care of yourself, physically and emotionally. If you want to speak to me, you can send me a private message on Facebook or on Ask Choma or DM me @chomamag or message me using WhatsApp on 071 172 3657.
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