Tips on disclosing your status
Talking about HIV is a very personal experience. 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.
Disclosure is about breaking the isolation often experienced by someone when they are diagnosed. It’s up to you, and some people take actions which ensure they never have to tell anyone in Queensland.
Stigma is a main factor in why people often struggle to discuss their HIV status.
Instead of letting stigma disempower you, or make you believe negative thoughts about yourself, the Need Help Talking films are the starting point of support for people when they “come out” – to themselves, or to a loved one. You are not alone. Whether you are living with HIV, supporting a loved one with HIV, or trying to educate the community with facts and not fear, please watch these films to gather support and resilience. All PLHIV are beautiful in their own way, as are their supportive loved ones.
It is important to hear stories from other people living with HIV in order to strengthen resilience – a person’s ability to cope with stigma. If you are newly diagnosed, be sure to also check out the Recently Diagnosed section of our website.
Typical disclosure questions often include:
- Should I tell anyone?
- Who can I tell?
- What about my privacy?
- How will they handle it?
- When or where should I tell them?
- What information will they need to know?
Many PLHIV find that telling their family or friends can be a very positive experience – listen to Jase on the Need Help Talking section of the website.
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 QPP or someone you trust so that you do not start to believe those negative thoughts about yourself. If you are feeling down because of someone being ignorant about HIV, that can be an early sign of “internalising stigma” – the process of adopting negative beliefs and/or being emotionally controlled by someone else’s ignorance.
If you do decide to disclose your HIV status, it is important to consider why you want to tell a specific person or group:
- How will it improve your self-esteem?
- Are there benefits in disclosing to specific people?
- Can you trust them to allow you to choose if, or when, you tell other people?
- Have you made a plan on how you will respond if the person(s) is supportive, negative or confused?
- Or a range of other personal issues that are unique to you.
At QPP, we are here to support you. If you want to ask a question, practice your coming out “script” or ask any other question regarding tips on HIV disclosure, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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 & the Law section of our website for further information.
If you have any questions about HIV, please call QPP’s Peer Support and Communications Officer toll free from a land-line on 1800 636 241, use the contact form provided or call (07) 3013 5555 (nationally).