Deciding to tell others about your HIV status can be difficult. Read on for tips on who to tell and how to tell them.

The Benefits of Telling People You Are HIV Positive
When you tell the right people about your HIV status, you can:

  • Get the support you need to take care of your health and well-being
  • Keep your loved ones informed about issues that are important to you
  • Reduce the chance of spreading HIV to others – through unprotected sex of any kind or when you share needles (if you use IV drugs)

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Take it slow. Before you tell someone you have HIV, ask yourself is it is a good idea to tell that person
  • Make sure you are telling the right person for the right reason. If you tell everyone, you can cause problems you may not have thought about
  • Think about how disclosing your HIV status will affect you and those around you. Some people will offer you love and support, while others may not be as understanding
  • Remember that it’s your decision to make. You are in charge of your own health, and it’s your right to share your status with the people you choose

Telling Your Partner
If you have HIV, telling your partner(s) about your status is the right and responsible thing to do.

  • Your partner(s) should get tested to find out if they are HIV positive.
  • Always use a condom or dental dam for any kind of sex – oral, anal, or vaginal
  • If you are concern that your partner might hurt you if you disclose your HIV status, talk to your health care provider, case or nurse care manager.

Telling Your Family and Trusted Friends
It can be hard to tell your friends, family, children, or other family members that you are HIV positive. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Think about the best time to tell people. You should pick a time when you can be alone with them and have a quiet talk
  • Keep the talk as simple as possible
  • Prepare yourself for their reactions – these include love and support as well as anger, sadness, or fear
  • Let them know why you chose to share your status with them and much their support means to you
  • Make sure they know not to tell others

Telling Your Boss at Work

  • You are not required by law to tell your boss that you are HIV positive – as long as you can perform your job, it is against the law for your boss to discriminate against you because you have HIV
  • You may think about telling your boss if HIV or your treatment affects how you do your job. If you do tell your boss, you may be able to work together to find ways for you to keep doing your job (fewer hours, more breaks, etc.)

(Adapted from

Disclosing your HIV status can be a stressful situation.

CLEAR Counseling can help you deal with stressful situation and people, manage stress and learn relaxation techniques, or improve your communication skills.

Call us at (515) 248-1595 and speak with one of CLEAR counselors to learn more or visit the CLEAR page on this website.

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