POZ Focus : Disclosure

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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.

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.

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.

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.



The percentage of men who reveal their HIV status to their partner before their first postdiagnosis sexual encounter.

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