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. Frank

    Hey, I found out I am hiv+ two months ago. The only person that knows is my brother only because he is a health practitioner and tested me. I can’t really open up about the topic to him or anybody. This is my first attempt in opening up about my situation and I hope I can be able to open up to my partner whom I think I have infected. We both got tested last year December and the results were negative. I slipped up and slept with my ex two months before knowing my +result. I fear rejection and I am also afraid of telling my ex about the results, Knowing I may have gotten the infection from her. Telling people one is hiv+ may be one of the most difficult things to say.

  2. Lisa Thorley

    Hi HIV-positive.

    If you can live with not telling him that you’re positive and risk him possible transmitting HIV to other women then that’s up to you.

    Though not an opinion of i-base, my opinion is that you tell them.

  3. HIV-positive

    I met a man from on an online site. We met up. One thing lead to another and we had sex. It was mostly unprotected. I feel awful. A few days prior, I tested HIV-positive. We are no longer seeing each other. Should I tell him or just let him find out eventually? Hopefully, he met other women and will not be able to figure out it was me.

  4. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Mercia,

    Telling someone about your status can be very difficult. However, if you see a future with this person then it may be better to just tell them, and be honest. If they can’t accept your status, then they aren’t the right person for you. Other than this, I can’t really suggest what you should do.

  5. mercia

    I just met this guy and we’ve been talking for months, so he suggested that we go test for HIV. Truth is i was diagnosed last year while pregnant with my daughter, baby daddy rejected me cause his tests showed negetive (don’t know how cause we’ve been having unprotected sex for over 6 months) …i really like this guy and i’m scared he will reject me… I don’t know what to do. We are supposed to get tested and show each other the results before the end of this week..
    What do i do? I dont want to loose him

  6. Lisa Thorley

    Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. David B

    I was diagnosed in 1998. I started to write that I have always found that earlier is better. Get it out of the way before you start developing feelings. But, truthfully, it does get easier with practice to know when to drop the H bomb. Every individual you meet will themselves be at different stages or levels of being comfortable/knowledgeable. I experience a spectrum of responses from whatever to running away screaming. I always welcome the opportunity to educate and sometimes that’s all it amounts to. You may help that person in their personal development to being more accepting, more comfortable and less ignorant of the facts about HIV+ partners. But they are where they are on the spectrum at the moment, nothing you can do about it. They just may not be ready for you. Be kind. Be gentle. Be as understanding as you expect them to be. If they’re not ready, be your best you. Then move on. You never know, they may come back to you later. It happens. :-)

  8. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Kelly,

    It sounds like you need some support. Is there someone that you can talk to, a close friend or relative? Or, is there a HIV support group near to where you live?

    I can’t say why your boyfriend is rejecting you. This could be due to the HIV, it could not. Relationships can definitely change though when HIV is in the middle.

    What’s important now though is that you give yourself some time. If the diagnoses is new, give yourself some space to breath. It may seem bad at the moment, but it will get better. There’s some info here that may help:

    http://i-base.info/hiv-positive/

    If you need any specific help, then please feel free to get in touch.

    One thing, have you started medication yet?

  9. Kelly

    I recently found out i am hiv positive. I told my partner about it and he did not even look or sound shocked as I was. Instead he does not want us to talk about it and he says let’s just leave life to the fullest. I think he knew his status long before I found out about mine. Now he has just changed on me and I am beginning to feel the rejection. He does not call and does not want to be with me and ended up telling me i must just leave him as he is happy with his life. I’m so broken because is the only person i trust and the only one that knows my life. How do I face the rejection? It’s very difficult to deal with this now.

  10. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us, its greatly appreciated.

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