Tips On Disclosing Your Status

Tips On Disclosing Your Status

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with HIV, or you’ve been positive for a while, at some point you will likely let someone important know your HIV status. Talking about HIV is a very personal experience, for many it’s finding a balance between honesty with protecting your right to privacy. 

Like with many issues surrounding HIV, everyone is unique, and some people are very comfortable discussing their HIV status with friends or loved ones, where other people may choose to only discuss their health condition with a small number of people in their life.  There is no perfect answer that suits everyone, but here are some helpful tips to help:

The 5 W’s Be selective Don't apologise Status isn't everything Keep it Simple & Relax

Who do you need to tell? 

What do you want to tell them? 

When should you tell them? 

Where is the best place to have this conversation?

Why are you telling them?

By thinking about the 5 W’s ahead of time, you can take things at your own pace.  It’s your information and you are in control. Consider whether there is a real purpose for disclosing and is it important or relevant to the relationship with the person.  Like any piece of personal information, it can be valuable for them to know, whilst others may not need to.

We know that many people can feel anxious about telling another person their status.  Ask yourself how you will respond if the person(s) is supportive, negative or confused? By being prepared you can ease those feelings of anxiousness. Remember, no matter how their questions come across, they want to understand.

In most instances, choosing who to tell is your personal decision. It’s your choice. There are very limited times where you are legally required to disclose, we have information just for this HIV Disclosure & the Law

There is no need to apologise. It’s a health condition.  It doesn’t define you and you have nothing to apologise for simply because you are HIV positive.

Your HIV status is only one little part of what makes you who you are.

Some people choose to isolate themselves, rather than be put in situations where they may need to disclose their status.  Often, these situations aren’t actually when disclosure is necessary or important.  You would never need to disclose your status just to enjoy a meal with a friend, so don’t stop living your life. If you are feeling isolated, QPP can help, we have social groups and other ways to connect with others where your status is never a barrier.

Occasionally, some people can see their status as everyone’s right to know, and by not telling them, they are in some way lying to them. This isn’t the case. Other than when you are legally required to disclose, it’s your information.  Does your friend or relative need to know your passport number? Of course not, but you aren’t lying to them by not telling them either.

Keep it simple. You don’t have to tell the story of your life. Just stick to the facts. If you both feel comfortable, allow questions, but only share what you want to.

Lastly, try to relax. Everyone living with HIV has grappled with this issue.  You’ll learn the way that’s right for you, it gets easier, and you aren’t alone.

At QPP, we are here to support you. If you want to ask a question, practise your coming out “script” or ask any other question regarding tips on HIV disclosure, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Many people living with HIV find that telling their family or friends can be a very positive experience.  It allows their loved ones to understand a little more about your life and provide support when you might need it.  Additionally, by letting people close to you know, they often become HIV allies, educating others in their life about HIV, correcting false information, and putting a stop to stigma when they encounter it.

On the other hand, some are met with discrimination, ignorance or a mix of negative attitudes and/or emotions. If you do have a negative experience, it is important to talk to someone you trust or one of our trained team so that you do not start to believe those negative thoughts about yourself. We are here to help you, that’s what we are here for.

Do I have to disclose my HIV status?

It is important to know your legal rights as PLHIV are often asked to disclose their status in situations where they actually do not have to in Queensland. Please see the HIV Disclosure & the Law section of our website for further information. We also have our HIV Disclosure Guide than can help.

Need help with discrimination?

Discriminating against someone because of their HIV status is unlawful in Australia. What you need to know and how to get help.

Help end HIV stigma

Stigma is a challenge for all people with HIV, but there are things you can do to help, no matter your status.

HIV Disclosure and the law

There is no specific law regarding HIV disclosure in Queensland, but there are laws you should understand.

Mental Health

It is not uncommon for people struggle with mental health at some point, but there are a lot of other things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing.


Our trained team is here to help you should you have any questions or need support. You can contact QPP toll free from a Queensland land-line on 1800 636 241 or (07) 3013 5555 nationally, email us at info@qpp.org.au or use our contact us form.

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