Reclaim your power – share your HIV status with your partner, family or friends.
1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, but some aren’t aware they’re positive. Additionally, 15% of people aren’t aware of their status and aren’t receiving the treatment they need to help them live their best life and stop the spread of HIV.
Everyone should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime and anyone age 13 and up, who is sexually active, should be tested at least once a year. If you have unprotected sex or share drug injection methods with others, you may be at a higher risk of HIV infection, making it more important for you to get tested for HIV more than once in your lifetime.
If you test positive for HIV, remember: It’s not the end of the world – you’re still you and you’re in control of your body and health. While it’s important to remind yourself of this, it’s completely natural if you feel uncertain or even fearful about your diagnosis.
One thing that may be on your mind is how or if you should share your positive status with others. While the decision is your choice, some states require you to share your HIV status with those it may directly affect, like a sexual partner. In Pennsylvania, the law doesn’t require you to notify your partner if you’re HIV positive.
It can be difficult to talk about your positive status with your partner, family or friends. These steps can help you start the conversation:
Talk to Thrive
Sharing your HIV status with someone you’re close to can be extremely powerful. Whether you’re HIV positive or negative, sparking a discussion about HIV testing is a great way to normalize the topic and the act of getting tested to know your status – something HIV stigma commonly frames as shameful. You can have this conversation with family, friends or your partner.
If you’re HIV positive, telling your partner about your status can be emotional and difficult, but it can bring you closer together. Talking through it can build trust and help you both process your thoughts and feelings.
Educate to Empower
Because of the many stereotypes that exist, not everyone understands HIV – from why it’s important to get tested to talking about your status or even how treatment works. If you decide to share your status with someone else, they may have questions for you about what it means to be HIV positive.
This is a great time to use education as a tool to talk to others about what living with HIV means. It exceeds the stigmas many believe it to be – it’s not a death sentence and it doesn’t mean you can no longer have sex. With treatment, you can still live a great life and enjoy relationships and sex.
If you are concerned about telling your partner, family or friend face to face but still want to have the conversation, there are helpful resources available. Online forums and blogs can help you plan out “the talk”. There are also anonymous options, such as STDcheck.com or bettertoknow.org where you can notify loved ones.
Remember, sharing your status with someone is your choice. It can be scary and stressful sharing a vulnerable area of your life, but it’s important to be open and honest. While it is normal to have a lot of questions or concerns, TakeControlHIV.com is available to help.