Q and A

Question

How do I disclose my HIV status to potential partners?

I recently broke up with a man I loved because I told him I was positive.

I explained to him that my viral load has been undetectable for a year now and that I am doing well with treatment. I tried to inform him about positive people. He started behaving strangely after that. I confronted him him but he denied that my being positive had anything to do with the situation.

I never offended him and our relationship was okay before I told him. Infact we planned on the next level which was marriage and that is why I told him. But he told me never to call him again and that he did not even want to be in a relationship.

Then it occured to me that this is what I would have to go through for the rest of my life. It is painful to be rejected. I looked down on myself all week. I prayed for death every day. I want to be like everyone else. I have decided never to tell anyone about my status. I want to get married in life and have my own kids. I am not prepared to settle for less in life. But how do I tell a man about my status when I know it would send him running? This will make me lose my self esteem.

Currently, I am afraid of dating because I do not want to be rejected again.

Answer

Thank you for your question. I am sorry that this is still a common experience for many HIV positive people. But just because one person rejects you does not mean that everyone else will.

The is no easy way to tell someone you are positive – but it does get easier with practice.

Soemtimes talking in general about HIV gives you the chance to know how open this person will be to discussion. You might get positive response lthat the person knows about HIV, has had previous parttners or family that are positive, or they might even be positive themself.

If the person is ignorant, angry or agressive then it is better to find out sooner and not waste any more time on them. You want someone who will appreciate you for who you are, that you can share life with, and to have as few secrets as possible.

Do not let this one rejection determine your future.

Many HIV positive people are leading very fulfilling lives, something they never expected… So can you.

NOTE: this answer was updated in July 2016 from a question posted in March 2008.

138 comments

  1. Universe power

    I am here for those who need support and a shoulder to cry on. I am based in UK been poz for 15yrs and have been through it all it’s not the end of the world but a whole new journey to open your eyes to the world around you take it as a lesson and enjoy your day as much as you can cause there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I will motivate you to love yourself and your life and good things will be achieved.the truth is you Deserve the best and you much more than what you think.sending peace and love to all of you.

  2. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Phylicia,
    What HIV meds are you taking? Efavirenz is a drug that can have this dizzy side effect. Efavirenz is in Atripla. But there are other versions of the same pill with different names. Tribuss and Odimune are two of these versions and you can see the full list here.

    iIf you are on these meds you can talk to your doctor about changing to other meds that don’t have this side effect.

  3. phylicia

    hi… i have been diagnosed with HIV last year January and ive been on treatment ever since but every time I take the pill I get a headache and feel dizzy, it has been happening since..i don’t know what to do.. they make me sick and its been over a year now.

  4. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Unknown,

    As Simon says above, there is no easy way to tell someone you are positive. But are you on HIV treatment (ART)? If so, and your viral load is undetectable, your girlfriend is not at risk of HIV. And it could be that the sex you have is low risk too. See U=U here.

    So who you tell is up to you. It could be that now the time is right for you to tell your girlfirend.

  5. Unknown

    I’m Living a lie, I am a lesbian I have been positive for 11 years now and my family always told me not to disclose my status to anyone so I havent. I have been in a relationship for a year and 3months and I love my gf so much. I want to tell her but I’m scared of her reaction and I have no support from my family so I’m on my own someone please help

  6. Lisa Thorley

    Hi SkunT,

    I can’t tell you want to do. But if you’ve been having sex without a condom with your partner, then he too could be positive. For his own health he’ll need to test. Having this conversation may be difficult, but if it were me (and I am positive) I’d want to know.

    Is there a chance that you could have contracted HIV from him?

  7. SkunT

    Hi, I’m a gay guy. I just found out that I’m HIV positive. I’m really shock and I’m really depressed right now. Should I tell my 7 years boyfriend about my situation now. Should I tell him to test his blood ? What if he got infected by me? He would hate me by destroying his life. I’m so scare. What should I do next to my life ? To our love life ?

  8. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Cyndy,

    Please see Q’s 6, 9 and 14 here:

    http://i-base.info/qa/what-are-the-most-asked-questions

  9. Cyndy

    I’m positive, my partner negative, can we have a child?

  10. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Fiku,

    We get asked this question a lot. I wish there was an easy answer, however there isn’t. Have you tried bringing up the topic of HIV into conversation? If you have, what has their reaction been? If you haven’t maybe you could do this.

    People react differently to being told that someone that they love is positive. Some people get it and are really supportive, others simply can’t accept it and this is even when they know there is no risk. By this I mean that as long as you’re on meds and your viral load is undetectable, you cannot transmit.

    The thing is, if you see a future with this person, however hard it may be, its probably better if you just tell them straight. If they don’t understand, then they aren’t the right person for you.

    Good luck with what you decide to do.

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