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. anonymous

    Here’s my good answer to this question. (from someone on the negative end of this)

    A good person would tell their potential partners before EVER engaging in sex with them. This would let them know what kind of a person they are about to share themselves with. Good, conscious potential partners would learn of the facts before making a decision on whether to move forward with things or to leave if it were not something they can handle. And they should then not be looked poorly upon if they simply can’t accept this as a way of life. Not everyone is strong enough to accept that risk. If you have developed a good understanding of each other’s point of view prior to sleeping together, you’ll be on the same page.
    If you are just out to sleep with someone without caring about them as a person first and they do the same, don’t tell them anything. And don’t expect them to tell you about any other stds that they might have either.
    If you have been sleeping with someone and you say that you care about them, but have waited years to tell them that you are HIV+ and they then walk out on you, it’s because you have not been honest with them. Or maybe they really don’t like you as a person, which is also possible. And if you have spent years with a person and you haven’t learned what that person is like, that is on you. And remember, rejection happens to even people without HIV. Don’t make this completely about that status. I have been through many rejections, and the reasons I still do not know. Sometimes people just suck, and you need to realize that. Telling them about your status upfront is like putting up a filter.

  2. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Tare,

    Have you tested positive? Or is it just your girlfriend who is positive? If you are positive did you contract it from your girlfriend?

    I can’t really advice you on how to tell your wife because I don’t know either of you. However, being honest with her might help and if you are positive and not on treatment not having sex with her. Or having sex with a condom. This is because you risk transmitting HIV to her and the baby.

  3. tare

    hi, I just found out from my girlfriend that she is positive….I have a wife and she is pregnant, she went for clinic and she tested negative. I want to disclose the truth that am positive but I don’t know how.

  4. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Sharis,

    Being diagnosed can be a shock. Give yourself some time and breath. You’ll be OK. Are you able to access any support? Or, talk to someone?

    Being diagnosed when you’re pregnant can be hard. Your not alone in thinking that a termination may be the best thing to do. Its quit common for women who are diagnosed when they are pregnant to think this.

    I can’t tell you if this is the right or wrong thing to do. However, HIV treatment is very effective and you can have a child who will be negative. However, you need to deal with your diagnoses in a way that works for you.

    With regards to your partner, this sounds very serious. Why do you think he would take his own life? Do you think he may be positive as well?

  5. Sharis

    Hi I’m a 25 year old woman.I have just found out that I’m HIV positive. My partner does not know yet. I’m strong and I can handle the news, but how do I tell him. I have a fear he might commit suicide. I’m carrying his child.I’m confused myself. I’m even thinking of terminating the pregnancy.I feel like its better I deal with HIV alone with no baby……..Help please I don’t sleep since the news.

  6. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Brian,

    I’m pleased to hear that you’ve found the info useless.

    Let us know how you get on.

  7. Brian

    Thank you so much for the information you have given. I shared the link and she showed understanding, the final decision is still to be made though

  8. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Brian,

    Because your girlfriend is worried about contracting HIV is may be worth sharing with her the results of the PARTNER study:

    http://i-base.info/qa-on-the-partner-study/

    The study basically says that if you’re undetectable the risks of you transmitting HIV are close to zero.

    If this isn’t something she’s interested in, its important to bare in mind that relationships end. Yes, HIV may be a factor, and if it is then it means that they weren’t the right person for you. This is by no means the end of everything.

  9. Brian

    I am a HIV+ young man and have been adhering to my meds, my viral load has been undetectable since 2012 and i have not been sick since then. My girlfriend and i have been dating for the past 4 years. I have been scared of telling her that i’m HIV+ untill early last year. She told me that HIV was not going to keep her away from me because she loves me. W’ve been unprotecting from September 2015 to December 2016 and at one point she had a miscarriage because we always had unprotected sex. Just before the end of 2016 she decided to go and test to find out if she had also become positive. She tested negative and since then she doesn’t want to be with me. She says she is afraid of being infected. Is this the end of everything for me?

  10. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Motlalepule,

    Firstly, its great to hear that your baby is negative and that your on meds. Being on meds is really important.

    I am however, really sorry to hear that your auntie has discussed your status with others without asking you first. Have you asked her why she did this?

    With regards to taking legal action against her, I don’t think that this is something that you can do. However, it might be worth contacting a solicitor to find out.

    You mention that you haven’t told your baby daddy, is there any reason why? Also do you know if he’s positive or not?

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *