Who to tell, when to tell and how to tell is a very personal and subjective matter. You always have to bear in mind that once you tell, you can’t untell.
The fear of being rejected, being judged or being abused often hinders people from telling. But in our experience of dealing with thousands of patients every year this very rarely happens.
You don’t have to tell anyone, of course. If you are happy keeping your diagnosis a secret, then that is up to you. But keeping a secret can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. Therefore, it is important that you talk to someone about your concerns and fears.
The Patient Representatives have experience of disclosure: they have told their families, partners, wives, children, religious leaders, health care professionals, insurers and employers. They offer one to one sessions, workshops and disclosure is featured in the Newly Diagnosed Course
Talk to the patient reps about how to disclose – whether to sexual partners or your employers. The main questions you always have to ask are: Do you want a relationship based on a lie? Do you want an honest relationship with someone? What is stopping you? What are the advantages?
Always remember the Law is on your side and the Equality Act protects you from discrimination. A person living with HIV can nowadays do more or less any job – for instance: policeman, carer, surgeon, dentist, midwife, teacher.
People’s perception of HIV is 20 years out of date so we constantly have to deal with people’s ignorance. It is not necessarily stigma or discrimination. So every time we tell someone we educate them.
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