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Having “the talk” with your sexual partner about your HIV-positive status is never an easy conversation, but it is an important one. By disclosing that you are living with HIV, you can help prevent the transfer of HIV, feel more comfortable in your relationship and relieve the burden of keeping information from your partner. Below are some tips to answer the question: “How do I tell my partner I have HIV?”


Answering the 5 W’s

  1. The first step to consider is who you need to disclose this information to. Whether it is your girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, wife or husband, it is important that you identify who exactly you need to tell and the relationship you have with them.


  1. Thinking about why you are telling your partner may encourage you to have the talk. If you have already had sexual relations with your partner, it is your responsibility to disclose that you have HIV. Your partner should get tested to ensure that the virus has not spread, and so that both you and your partner understand the importance of protection in the future.


  1. Organizing how you are going to tell your partner and what exactly you want him or her to know will help your conversation flow smoothly. Many people lack knowledge about HIV so educating them on HIV can help to keep them from getting overwhelmed. Making bullet points or even writing the conversation out can prevent you from going off topic. Discussing the conversation you want to have with a case manager, therapist or counselor can help you know what to say and how to say it when you talk to your partner.


  1. The stress of deciding when to disclose this information can keep you awake at night. Choosing the right time to tell someone that you are HIV positive may seem hard, but it is best to prompt the conversation when you do not have plans, so you have plenty of time to talk about it.


  1. Telling your partner that you have HIV should be a private conversation at a location where you both feel comfortable. Emotions may arise and the comfort of your home or his or hers is a better environment for the both of you. Being able to comfortably express yourself will lead to a constructive conversation.


 How do I tell my partner I have HIV?

Disclosing your HIV status to your significant other should be a priority if you have had unprotected sex. He or she will need to get tested to ensure that the virus was not passed on to them If you have not had sex, it is recommended that you tell them prior to any contact. Not only will your partner trust you more if you have this discussion prior to sex, but you both can take the necessary precautions when the time comes. If you have had multiple sexual relationships, there are ways of addressing this such as using an anonymous texting service, that will alert the individual he or she should get tested. The Pennsylvania Department of Health also offers a service that will anonymously notify your partners of their need to get tested.

In many states it is mandatory that you disclose your HIV status prior to sexual relations. To learn more about HIV criminalization in Pennsylvania, visit The Center for HIV Law Policy


If you and your partner or spouse are interested in getting tested for HIV or are seeking supportive services, contact us today.