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pen and honest conversation about HIV/AIDS saves lives. When we talk about HIV, we help to break down the stigma around it, and we help to protect our own health and the health of those we love.
So get talking today about sexual partners, where to get tested, stigmatism with friends and choosing if and when to disclose your status.
Because Broward is greater than AIDS!
Whether it’s about your preferred method of protection (condoms are the only option that prevent pregnancy AND disease), getting tested, or disclosing your status (or asking about theirs), find a time and place where you can have a real conversation. Where you both feel comfortable and can be open and honest with each other, and ideally before you start to have sex or at least not in the heat of the moment. See more in Disclosing Your Status below.
Consider how you will respond if you find out he or she is HIV positive or how you will tell them if you are. When someone shares with you that they are HIV positive, recognize that it means that they trust and care about you. Listen to what they have to say. Respect their honesty. Finding out your partner is HIV positive doesn’t have to change anything. You both just need to take actions to protect one another. That means using condoms and, for the HIV positive partner, ongoing antiretroviral treatment and regular care. If you have questions, you may want to get advice from a health care professional.
Disclosure is a highly personal issue. Finding a way to talk about our status with our sexual partners is part of being in a healthy and loving relationship.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking your health care provider to test you, there are many health clinics you can go to get tested. Many offer free or low cost testing so don’t let cost be a deterrent. And, don’t be afraid to ask questions. For local HIV testing locations in your area click here.
If you are HIV positive, your provider needs to know about your status to be able to give you the best possible care, and also so that they don’t prescribe medication for you that may conflict with your HIV treatment. Connecting with a provider who you trust is the first step to getting the right care.
HIV has touched many lives. In the U.S. today, more than 1.1 million people are living with HIV, more than at any time in the more than 30 year history of the epidemic. National surveys indicate that half of Americans now know someone living with HIV or who has died of AIDS. By being informed and open in our conversations about HIV, it shows we care and are there for one other.
When someone shares with you that they are HIV positive or worried they might be, the best thing you can do is listen. Disclosure is a highly personal issue. Treat it with respect. It shows that the person trusts you. If they are not already in care, the next most important step is to encourage your friend to seek medical care. Offer to go with him or her if they are anxious or reluctant. Early diagnosis and ongoing treatment are critical both in improving the health of the individual who is HIV positive as well as in preventing the spread of the virus to others. Being a good friend means looking out for each other and helping each other stay in the best possible health.
If you feel you are not ready to disclose to people you know, or fear that they may not respond in a supportive manner, it may be helpful to find a support group in your area to speak with instead. You do not have to tell everyone in your life your status—it is your decision and you can take your time and decide what makes you feel safe and comfortable.
Once you have decided to disclose, set up a time to talk in a private setting. Try to prepare yourself for the type of reaction they may have so that you can also prepare yourself to respond. Make a list of questions you think the person you are disclosing to might have and use the 5 ways on Greater Than AIDS to find the answers, or print out the pages and bring them with you.
Some good points to emphasize right away if you are disclosing to family or friends are:
If you are disclosing to a partner you may also want to explain:
NOTE: There are some situations where an HIV-positive person has a legal obligation to disclose his or her status. For more information, see the American Civil Liberties Union’s State Criminal Statutes on HIV Transmission. Find more information on disclosing to employers, past sexual partners and healthcare providers at The Body.