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Friends

Your Friends and Your HIV Status

Your friends know lots of things about you. Should you tell them that you have HIV?

Friends can be a significant source of support as you are learning to live with HIV. You may even find that your friendship actually becomes stronger once you’ve confided in them—but only you can decide whether and to whom you will disclose your HIV status.

When you are deciding which of your friends to tell, first ask yourself why you want them to know? Have they trusted you with deeply personal information in the past? Do you have reason to believe that they will provide you with the support you need? If the answer to these questions is “Yes,” then you may want to disclose.

There is no “right” way to talk to a friend about HIV. You’ve probably had confidential conversations and shared experiences with this person in the past. Think about those interactions and approach your HIV disclosure conversations in the same way.

Talk to your friend about HIV at a familiar and comfortable place, and be sure that you have plenty of privacy. Be prepared for your friend to show a range of emotions and reactions at first, and to go through stages of dealing with the news—probably similar to the ones you experienced when you were first told of your diagnosis.

You will want to be prepared to answer your friend’s questions about your HIV status. Your friend will probably have concerns about your health and may also be concerned about whether or not he or she could get HIV from you. This is a chance to educate your friend about HIV basics—transmission, prevention, and treatment—and to eliminate those fears.

It’s a good idea to have printed or online information ready for your friend in case you’re not prepared to answer every question. You might also consider inviting your friend to the clinic or doctor’s office where you took your test, got your results, or are being treated. This offers an opportunity for your friend to ask questions and learn more about living with HIV.

For more information, see AIDSMeds.com and POZ’s To Tell or Not to Tell: Disclosing Your HIV Status Exit Disclaimer.

Last revised: 08/24/2009