When and How to Share HIV Status

Sharing your HIV status with those you trust can help with the stress of having HIV and can actually improve your overall health.

For many, when they learn of a positive HIV status or even if they’ve known for a while, there are bound to be many situations in your life in which you will be faced with the decision of whether or not to disclose your HIV status.

p>It is often difficult to tell a spouse, partner or perhaps someone you’re dating, healthcare providers such as a dentist or Inform sex partners you’ve been with about your status.

To tell others that you are infected with HIV has to be balanced with honesty and protecting your right to privacy. Who has a legal right to know about your status? Are there situations where you are legally bound to disclose that you are HIV positive?

Barriers to disclosure are HIV stigma, fear of rejection, fear of blame (intimate partner violence), being treated differently, fear of loss of control over confidentiality (being able to chose who knows and who doesn’t),

Issues include self-protection, burdening loved ones and criminalization, especially when criminal laws change state by state.

There are no simple answers that are right for everyone. It takes time to adjust to being HIV positive.

Loren Jones, an African American woman who has lived for 28 years, talks about how it was organizations like Women Organized Responding to Life Threatening Diseases (WORLD) that helped her to be able to disclose and be open about her own status for 20 years.

As a member of the Bay Area African American State of Emergency and Black Treatment Advocacy Network (BASE/BTAN), Jones partnered with Georgia Schrieber, Alameda County’s Linkage to Care coordinator, to provide an open discussion about the need to make disclosure of HIV status in this county safe for all.

Jones knows of two recent stories where HIV women were killed after their status was disclosed. In 2010, in Dallas Texas, a 28-year-old African American woman was stabbed by her partner after she told him of her status.

In 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, a woman was strangled. The man accused of her murder, said they had had oral sex, and he later learned she was HIV positive.

Jones says it is violence, especially against women that drives the importance of creating safe spaces “Disclosing can be healthy and can help to maximize one’s healing, says Jones.

Being open and safe promotes mental health and wellness, combats isolation and loneliness, and facilitates open communication. To end fear of disclosure we must have education, health literacy, giving those living with HIV emotional support, to ensure their best outcomes.

For disclosure assistance, contact Alameda County Public Health Department
Office of AIDS Administration, 1000 Broadway, Suite 310 at 510. 268. 7630.


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