WHAT IT MEANS Disclosure is
the process of sharing your HIV —or “coming out”—with another person: a
potential sex partner, best friend, family, doctor, employer or someone
you might have exposed to HIV, like a past needle-sharing partner.
WHY IT MATTERS Every
disclosure is unique, with specific risks and benefits. On the one
hand, it can be a practical means of getting support and referrals.
You’ll also reduce the risk of HIV transmission to others and may help
keep loved ones close by allowing them to share your worries and
triumphs. Also, by informing a former sex partner, he or she can decide
to get tested. However, disclosure can also be emotionally and even
physically threatening, given the stigma people with HIV still face.
HOW TO First,
get familiar with the facts of how the virus works so that you’re able
to answer questions about such things as transmission risks and the
reality of living with the disease. Do your best to anticipate
responses so that you can deal with them better. If often helps to
rehearse a scenario first with a counselor, fellow HIVer or AIDS
Service Organization (ASO) caseworker, including getting a reality
check on your reasons for coming out.
NOTE TO ROOKIES You
need to trust your gut about whom to tell, when and how. Take it
slowly—you will be living with HIV for a long time, and your first
responsibility is to yourself and to finding the support you need.
Don’t expect that just because you love someone, they will be in a
position to support you after your disclosure. You may need to support
them with this new info before they can be there for you.
NOTE TO SEX PARTNERS
The percentage of men who reveal their HIV status to their partner before their first postdiagnosis sexual encounter.