Last August 8, I met with the other “pozzies” in our hub. As usual, we started with Vinyasa Yoga as our support group’s fitness activity. We also had a meeting about the future activities that our support group is going to conduct. Today, I’m going to share about the talk that we had with one of the doctors at The Medical City, Dr. Kenneth Javante from the Department of Psychiatry.
I also added some information outside his talk through some research.
Topic: Disclosing one’s HIV status
Republic Act 8504: Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 (Editor's note: other countruies have different requirements regarding the need to disclose your status.)
Article 6 Section 34: Any person with HIV is obliged to disclose his/her HIV status and health condition to his/her spouse or sexual partner at the earliest opportune time.
Disclosing HIV status can help lessen the stress which can improve your overall health. However, the following things must be considered when disclosing your HIV status.
• Consider the kind of relationship that you have with the person you will inform about your HIV status.
• Think about the pros and cons of disclosing your HIV status.
• Consider the possible issues that the person might have that will affect how much he or she can support you.
• The person’s attitude and knowledge about HIV is also an important factor to be considered.
• Ask yourself “Why do you want to disclose to this person?” and “What kind of support can this person give you?”
• For each person you want to tell, ask yourself if the person needs to know now – or is it better to wait.
I’ve tried to search about the good and the bad things that can happen upon telling your HIV status. These may not be similar to what others have experienced.
Telling others can be good because:
• You can get love and support to help you deal with your health.
• You can keep your close friends and your loved ones informed about issues that are important to you.
• You don’t have to hide you HIV status (which some people find very helpful in making their burden light)
• You can get the most appropriate health care.
• You can reduce the chances of transmitting the disease to others.
• In many countires, you can be found guilty of a felony for not telling a sexual partner you are HIV-positive before having intimate contact.
Telling others can be bad because:
• Others may find it hard to accept your health status.
• Some people might discriminate against you because of your HIV status.
• You may be rejected in social or dating situations.
You don’t have to tell everybody. Take your time to decide who to tell and how you will approach them. Be sure you’re ready. Once you tell someone, they won’t forget you are HIV-positive.
If you have already decided to disclose your status (which takes a lot of time and courage), here are some of the points that you need to remember.
Telling your partner/spouse:
• It’s always normal to feel nervous, embarrassed, and fearful about the reaction that you might get.
• It’s a process which will take several conversations before he/she understands your situation.
• A negative reaction may come first but may change as times goes by.
Telling your family:
• There is no right or wrong way of disclosing your HIV status to your family members. Every family has different parenting styles.
• The fear of hurting or making them angry will always be there. However, some people find that keeping their status will actually weaken their relationship with their family members and may keep them from getting emotional support and love that they want.
• Some family members may want to know how you got exposed to HIV. Decide if or how you will answer their questions about how you got infected.
• Your relatives may appreciate knowing that you are getting good health care, that you are taking care of yourself, and about your support network.
Telling your colleagues:
• Consider the pros and cons, and expect mixed reactions from the people who you worked with.
• There is a possibility of building more supportive relationships at work. By letting them know your status, your colleagues will be more considerate about the amount of work that you should accomplish.
• Always remember that DISCRIMINATION IS ILLEGAL.
Additional points to remember:
• Always find the most secure places to have a conversation regarding your HIV status disclosure.
• Make sure that you are prepared with the information about living with HIV. You can also provide printed materials that they can read, and answer their possible questions in the middle of your conversation.
• Explain the possible transmission of the virus. This is what most people are worried about (specially the ones who aren’t that educated about HIV).
You can read more about sharing your HIV status on these sites:
This article first appeared on the blog Optimistic Ryu (Everything about my POZitive life and more) here.
You can follow Optimistic RYU on twitter @RyuMPLUS.