To Tell or Not To Tell: Disclosing Your HIV Status : Friends

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To Tell or Not To Tell: Disclosing Your HIV Status
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Studies show that most people disclose their HIV diagnosis to close friends within days of learning the news themselves. A close friend may be able to offer new ways of thinking about your situation. Some people are more informed about HIV than others. Even more importantly, a friend's greatest contribution may be simply listening to you.

A friend whom you feel close to may appreciate that what you have revealed was told in confidence. However, you also need to be aware that what has been revealed in confidence may still end up becoming the subject of gossip among your other friends and acquaintances. In this situation, as in other difficult times in life, some friendships will endure and even deepen while others will fade away. If you have a tight-knit family or social group, or you live in a small community or a rural area, confidentiality will likely be harder to maintain. In this circumstance you might consider discussing with a counselor or some trusted person outside of your regular life about how to proceed.

General disclosure tips to consider with regard to friends:

Remember that someone you regard as a valued friend is like a family member, but one of your own choosing. Many of the tips for disclosing to your family may also apply when disclosing to a friend.
Tell them you have something important to tell them.
Request that what you're going to discuss be kept in confidence.
Keep what you say as simple and as direct as possible.
Tell them why you want them to know.
Offer to answer any questions they may have.
If you have particular HIV-related issues or concerns that you're trying to sort out, let them know that.
Your friend may have some helpful suggestions. Often just being able to talk about what's on your mind is a great relief and that is enough in itself.
Ask them to be there for you.
Tell them how much they mean to you and how much you love them.
Don't be afraid to show your feelings openly and to express how how important this news is to you.

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Last Revised: June 27, 2012

This content is written by the POZ and AIDSmeds editorial team. For more information, please visit our "About Us" page.

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