What Is Disclosure?
Disclosure means telling someone that you are living with HIV. Sharing your HIV status can help with the stresses of living with HIV.
There is no ‘best way’ to tell someone that you have HIV, and different people may react to the news in a range of ways. Some may feel overwhelmed and need time to adjust, while some may provide immense support immediately. When you are preparing to inform your family, friends and sexual partners, ask yourself these questions:
- Whom do I want to tell and why do I want them to know?
- How much am I ready to share? How much are they ready to hear?
- How will disclosing my HIV status affect me and how will it affect the people I tell?
When you answer these questions, you can then decide where to share this information. The conversation should take place in a location where you are both comfortable and safe, whether that is your home, a friend’s house, or even your doctor’s office.Your comfort should be priority.
Who Do I NEED To Tell?
It is very important to share your status with your sexual partner(s) and any persons with whom you may be sharing injection needles. While we know that this may be scary, to stop the virus, we must protect those around us by letting them know if they should get tested.
If you feel that you may not be safe to tell your partner(s), you can take them to your health care provider to have additional support when you share this information.
To get more information on where to get your partner tested for HIV, speak with someone on the National HIV Helpline call 800-4HIV or 800-4448. (This is a toll-free number.)
You are not alone. #youarenotalonett
Remember that you can still enjoy a healthy and beautiful sex life once you use protection and take your medication as advised by your medical team. Taking your medication as prescribed helps you to attain your U=U status.
It is also important to share your status with your regular doctor so that you can receive the best possible health care. It can be intimidating to share your status,, but doctors especially need to be informed about your medications to be sure that you will not experience any bad reactions from medications used together incorrectly.
Who Does Not Need To Know?
The chart below provides you with a brief snapshot of some members of your treatment team.
Although it is important for some key persons in your life to know, your employer is not one of them. It is important to remember that other than sexual partners, people with whom you share injection equipment and health care providers, no one is obligated to know your HIV status until you are ready to share with them. If you decide to inform your employer, please know it is against the law of Trinidad and Tobago for an employer to discriminate against you based on your HIV status. This is outlined in the Equal Opportunities Act, where HIV is covered under Section 3 which addresses physical conditions.
For children or adolescents who are HIV positive, teachers, classmates, and other school staff do not need to know a child’s HIV status.
People often choose to disclose their status to close friends and family members whom they trust. For many, telling those closest to them provides them with both emotional and practical support. Be sure to only share with persons who can give you the type of support that you truly deserve. Be sure to tell persons who can be confidential.
If you would like some more information about disclosure, please take a look at the videos below from Eswick Padmore who is the Founder of Friends for Life and Cyrus Sylvester who is the Vice Chairman of the Patient Advocate Mission. In these videos, you will learn more about how to disclose and what support you can possibly receive from the NGO sector.
A note about Insurance companies Many insurance companies will ask you to disclose your HIV status when applying for certain policies such as Life Insurance and Critical Illness Policies. Some may also ask you to take a HIV test. If you are not provided with a test, they may simply ask you to indicate your status. Sadly, if you indicate that you are negative while being positive, and the insurance company is made aware of this, they may void your policy.But there are options. Some Insurance Companies and Credit Unions offer indemnity plans which mimic life insurance plans.