Q and A


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.


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.


  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Lesht,

    We get asked this question at lot, unfortunately there isn’t an easy answer to your question. It’s up to you if you choose to tell your boyfriend. However, if you’ve been having sex with him and without a condom, he could also be positive. If he’s not aware of his status (that is if he’s positive) he’s going to need to test. This may be a difficult conversation to have, but he’s going to need to know.

    When someone tests positive, some relationships last, whereas for others a HIV diagnoses is just too much. If this is the case, then in my opinion the relationship just ins’t worth it. HIV isn’t the health condition it used to be, it’s now very manageable. As long as you take medication you’re no different to a negative woman. Like a negative woman you can have kids, get married etc. HIV shouldn’t be an issue.

  2. Lesht

    Hi everyone im also positive just found out last week n my partner doesn’t know anything about it i really want to tell him but i dont know how to, should I just break up with him? Coz it seems like if i do he’ll reject me n call me names

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Tilly,

    I’m sorry to hear this. Is there anyone at the clinic that can’t give you support?

    What country do you live in? If you live in South Africa you can contact the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). The TAC could help with local support. Here’s a link to their contact page.

  4. Tilly

    Hi there I’ve been hiv for more than 10 years now and my husband is threatening to disclose my HIV my status to everyone because I’m leaving him where can report him.

  5. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Jerusalem,

    I’m sorry, it’s not possible to answer this question and give a reason why she won’t take an HIV test.

    But even if your partner is HIV positive that’s no reason to be ashamed.

    However, it can be hard to tell someone that you love about your HIV. Being HIV positive is not a reason to stop persuing a loving relationship.

  6. Jerusalem

    I am in love with a woman and I told her from the start of the relationship that we both needed to go for HIV test so that we would know our status. She refused and I then went alone and showed her the results that showed that I was negative. I then persuaded her to do the same but she becomes so aggressive and threatens to end the relationship if I continue with the HIV topic especially when I ask her to go test so that we both would know our status. She accuses me of being so selfish. Is this relationship worth persuing? Could it be that she is HIV positive and she is ashamed of sharing the news of her status with me?.

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Mthabiseng,

    Though this is clearly very frustrating, its not possible to force someone to have a HIV test. This is something that an individual needs to decide on their own. You could try and explain to him however that its important that he knows his status, because if he is positive he will need medication.

  8. Mthabiseng

    Hi I’m positive woman and I’m married i found out about my stutes during pregnancy then I told my husband he accepted me and he have full of support but the problem is he doesn’t want to go for test

    How can i convince him to test

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Nelly,

    What your sister is telling you is incorrect. The only thing that can control the immune system of a positive person is ARVs, these, and these alone. Please see Q2 here: http://i-base.info/qa/what-are-the-most-asked-questions

    As you’re yet to start medication you may find the following guide helpful: http://i-base.info/guides/starting

  10. nelly

    hei there I have just tested poz last month and I asked the nurses not to give me ARV because where I’m staying I have no privacy and I’m staying with a friend that I am working with, do they suggested to give me INH so I agreed I am taking it every morning but I don’t know if I will not be late to start Arv because they said I must come back this month to start the treatment… and I told my sister about she said for now I can buy boosters on order to help my immunes system, so now I am confused what should I do, should I start my treatment or should I just go with my sister’s advice…


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