You are here

Should you tell?

There is an opinion that, in order to help end HIV stigma, positive people should, whenever possible, disclose their status. So, tell all or keep shtum?

Nemo

Why should I tell some random stranger online or at a bar, who I’ll never sleep with, something intensely personal about my life? My health, sex life, finances and emotions are my business. I'll share when I see fit and when I feel the person is trustworthy. Problem is, if you share with one, you share with the village.

Ángel  

Non-disclosure adds to the stress of being positive. Fear of being discriminated and stigmatised keep people with HIV off needed treatment and care. We need to raise our voices — UNITED — and fight for our rights and ourselves.

Anthony  

Some of the people who are the strongest advocates of absolute disclosure are those who don't have jobs or whose jobs are in the HIV bubble, which is far more supporting than in the rest of the world. I make decisions about disclosure all the time, and because of the realities of my life, they are pretty careful ones. I feel most ethical and empowered when I am supported in self-determination around disclosure decisions, rather than made to feel that the times I disclose are not enough and the times I don't indicate that I'm a bad person. Stigma placed on positive people by other positive people is more common than we want to admit, and probably some of the hardest to accept.

Evan  

With only one minor slip up over the last six years, I have always disclosed to my sexual partners, both online and offline. Of course my doctor and dentist know, even my martial arts teacher and some of the students are aware, beyond that I refuse to have some HIV evangelist preach to me the gospel of disclosure. I say to you walk a mile in my shoes before casting judgment.

James

I have chosen the disclosure path for the last 15 years; it has made my life so much easier. It is the right thing to do for me.

Michael  

I am HIV-positive and I don't care who knows it. What others think of me is none of my business. Let’s end the stigma.

Brooke

I tell everyone. Within months of being diagnosed I realised how little I heard about HIV and women anywhere. I told all my friends. I've told co-workers and family members. I was told by doctors and support group speakers NOT to and don't see how that helps. If no one talks about [HIV] the straight world thinks they are in a huge safety bubble, someone needs to tell them otherwise.

Wayne  

The parallels with the advancement of LGBT rights are unavoidable: we become less scary when we are known, we become known by disclosing and sharing our experiences. Yes, it is easier for some people who are risking less (and I count myself among them) and that confers an obligation to pave the way for others, but the only time something can be used against you is if you are trying to hide it. Outraged by stigma? Our own hiding drives it.

Bradford

We need everyone who is HIV-positive to come out if we are to get rid of the stigma associated with HIV. Having disclosed you’re positive means you can feel comfortable, confident and not have fear when you disclose to a sexual partner. You're not going to have added stress, worry and guilt. If you don't disclose to a partner right away, when you do decide to tell them, they are going to ask why you didn't tell them. This is when problems arise. There may be those who are afraid and withdraw, but there are people who are not afraid and who will be there to support you. How can anyone receive the help they need if their family and friends are not aware of what is going on in their life?

John

There are many factors that go into a decision to disclose. It’s easy for me to disclose because I’m a white male of a certain age, associate mostly with other gay men of my generation, volunteer my time with HIV organisations and, because I’m retired, don’t have to concern myself with the reaction of a potential employer. Others may not share my privilege, so their experience will be different. Coming out for them may be fraught with danger, with discrimination, with rejection. While it may be good for the community at large that they come out, it may not be good at all for them as individuals. Each of us has to make our own decision in these matters and we shouldn’t force others to come out unless — and until — they’re ready to do so.

latest news

May 1, 2017
Flu season is here, and people — especially those with impaired immunity — are advised to get vaccinated.
April 19, 2017
Researchers are collating stories of family life in the context of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
March 7, 2017
“For me, being told that I couldn’t have children was harder than the diagnosis itself."
March 7, 2017
"People in heterosexual relationships seem to think that HIV could never affect them — but it does.”
March 1, 2017
In a major breakthrough, scientists in Geelong have discovered a protein that could prevent HIV. 
February 1, 2017
This is a film that delves into a not-too-distant time when the gay community was devastated by HIV/AIDS.
January 30, 2017
Sydney's Albion Centre is providing free mindfulness sessions for people living with HIV.
January 24, 2017
A survey is being conducted to better understand the experience and challenges of living with HIV.
January 17, 2017
During the holiday break, the HIV community sadly lost one of its most beloved leaders.
January 17, 2017
Young heterosexual people living with HIV are among the most isolated in the positive community.
January 12, 2017
PrEP will be made available to 2,000 Queenslanders at risk of HIV this year; access sites are recruiting now. 
January 9, 2017
The Positive Living team would appreciate it if you could find the time to complete a short online survey. 
December 16, 2016
Four, simple, practical actions you can take to stay happy, healthy and connected over the holiday season.
December 12, 2016
MyLife+ is a world-first app for PLHIV, with unique tools to help PLHIV take more control of their health.
December 7, 2016
It's a story we hear less often. but one that deserves to be heard. Two women with HIV share their stories.