If you are worried about telling people that you have HIV, you’re not alone. For many people living with HIV, particularly when they have just been diagnosed, telling other people is one of their main concerns.Sharing the news of your diagnosis (also called disclosure) with your partner, a close friend or family member and talking about your feelings can be really helpful, and your friends and family may be a good source of support. Unfortunately, in many communities, there is stigma attached to HIV, and it may be that some of the people you know do not really understand what it means to have HIV. They may not understand how it is passed on, be afraid, or judgmental.It is up to you to decide who you tell. You may find it helpful to talk to a healthcare professional, or a peer support group, first.
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I was always worried about how anyone would react when I exposed my status to them. However, because of most people supporting me and not making me feel awkward I have never felt I could not reveal or hide my status. Everyone that knows me or of me knows I am HIV positive. Of course it has been a roller coaster ride however because most people surprise me with support and encouragement I really do not care who knows I am HIV positive. Because having HIV is Me!! Believe it or not that one person that you thought you could not tell will be the person that gives you the respect and courage not to hide.
Four years post my HIV status I was surprised by the love and support from family and friends. In the very beginning I was terrified to tell anyone of my status due to stigma I had seen from people. Being an undergraduate college student I was not sure what people would think of me. I wondered would I be treated the same? In the beginning I had both good and not so good experiences. Once relocating from South Carolina to New York I began to live my truth by allowing a spade to be called a spade. After being in therapy for some time I know I needed to inform one of my best friends that was about to come up to New York for a visit. I did not want the questions of why I am taking so many medications? And why I have them in the refrigerator? The best way for me to do it was by a letter. Sh called me and we had a conversation concerning me. If I was okay and that nothing had changed. She was hurt that I had actually held that information as long as I did. Especially because the things that happened in college that will never get out because we are taking some things to the grave. As far as family I had my share of stigma related details around my status. With that I just gave correct information concerning HIV education and what transpired with me concerning my HIV positive status.
I was surprised by the love and support I received when I joined the campaign. I did not know what I was in store for but I knew that I could not hold this inside. I had to let others know that I was living with an AIDS diagnosis. I did not know how it would be received by my peers but I was totally surprised at the level of support and admiration that I was showed. Initially, when I first met the other spokesmodels I was a little apprehensive about speaking to a group of people that I did not know. However, after hearing their stories I realized at that moment that I was not alone in dealing with this issue. Shortly thereafter I begin speaking to different people from all walks of life and I found that people were listening, they were showing empathy, and some could relate. That is the first time I realized that I was no longer living in the shadows, that people were genuinely showing love and concern about me and my status. It made it easier for me to accept my diagnosis and speak to others to try and help prevent them from going through what I had to endure. The love that I was shown has given me the strength to continue to share my truth with all I come into contact with. My community also played a role in my comfort zone by supporting me and having me speak at events. So many people have reached out to me through social media asking for help or advice. This is what keeps me going! Love is Love.
After being positive for 35 plus years. One of my closest friends whom I never discussed my status with, was surprised to find out that I was positive. She wanted to know why I never shared this information with her. She stated that it would not have changed the way she felt about me or my partner. She told me that as close as we were in the past and still are , that this is something that I should have discussed with her. Her interest and concern for me being HIV positive, seeing me mentoring other people who were positive as well, and being a spokesmodel for the HIV Stops With Me Campaign really touched her heart. She told me it takes a God-fearing person to disclose their status to the world and still have peace of mind. Especially not knowing how this information would be received by others. She thanked me for the service that I do in the community and said if I ever needed anything, or any help with my campaign not to hesitate to let her know .This is what I call true unconditional love and support.
On this question the answer is yes. I remember I was doing outreach one time and I was talking about where to get tested and how progressive and aggressive this new generation is in engaging in sex. Then the person I was giving safe sex kits to asked me are people dying like they were in the 80’s of the epidemic.
That is when I told the young man that I am HIV positive and that people are living longer and better lives. He was shocked and respected that I told him my status. He was more impressed that I was out on the streets giving out safe sex kits and having small talk with good vibes.
I felt real good about myself after sharing and getting his feedback made me want to do even more outreach in the community. In some cases I find myself re-educating others that HIV is not bad and should not be villainized.
When I found out that I became HIV positive there were two major fears of mine. First, that despite major advancements in medicines to sustain life, I was going to die. Second, no one would love me or want to have me in their life.
Both of these fears were due to my ignorance, stigma that I carried and things I have heard. I felt that I was a complete disappointment to my family, church and friends. Those fears led me to run and hide from others instead of getting the help I needed.
After carrying this secret for almost a year I spoke with my mom first. She did the opposite of what I expected. She loved me and embraced me. That gave me a little strength to share with a few other people. Eventually, I told the world through my documentary “The Way to Kevin”. In front of a large audience of friends, family and strangers. Their response was the same as my mothers’. They embraced me, they loved me, and they shared with me letting me know that I was not alone. I was beyond surprised, I was given the strength to live in my truth.
My first wife (who passed away) had no idea about what HIV/AIDS is all about, but we joined a support group for positive and negative people. We became educated together, she gave me all the love a person can expect from someone. She was there through all my sickness even when I was in a coma she never left my side I give thanks for having someone like her in my life.
I was very surprised by the love and support that I received from my family when I told them that I was HIV positive. Being diagnosed was a devastating thing for me since I lost my father to AIDS in 1984. I will never forget what a toll the disease took on him and I felt like that was going to happen to me also. I was ashamed, scared, and I knew all too well about how the stigma can make someone isolate themselves from society. Today I know that telling my family was the best thing I could have done for myself and for them. It has been 24 years since I was diagnosed and I feel like one of the lucky ones. There are so many others out there that have been abandoned by their families because they told them their status. People are still thinking that you can get HIV just by kissing or even by drinking from the same glass as a positive person. I am truly blessed to have the family that I have. They continue to love me for who I am, they have supported me 100% when I told them that I wanted to be part of this campaign to be a voice for others. In fact they always show up when we do our AIDS Walk in support of me and others. I thank God every day for my family and who they are. I believe that we have become closer and stronger because I told them that I am HIV positive and I do not regret telling them at all. My family stands with me to support me and to support the ones that do not have anyone in their lives because they are HIV positive.
I have often been surprised by the love and support that I have received after I have disclosed my positive status. The encounter I remember most clearly occurred 30 years ago, in the early days of the epidemic, right after I was diagnosed. Back then it took several days to process HIV test results. I was at work when my doctor called with my results. After I called my mother, the first person I disclosed to was my supervisor. I’m not sure why I felt the need to tell her, maybe it was because we had a good working relationship and I had alot of respect for her. My husband had been murdered a year earlier and she had been there for me then too. When I told her that I was HIV positive, she paused and then she hugged me and asked what I needed her to do. I had no idea what I needed, I was in shock. My supervisor then called two of my closest co-workers into her office and when I disclosed my status to them, they reacted with love…not judgement or fear. I was so moved by my co-workers responses and their kindness that even though I did not start HIV treatment until ten years later, I felt so blessed to have those three amazing people in my life at that most difficult time.
To anyone who is struggling with getting tested or worried about the stigma of HIV, remember you are not alone.
The HIV STOPS WITH ME Campaign is designed to guide, educate and support you.
I discussed my status publicly in an article I wrote for TheBody.com. I was very nervous to talk about it publicly because I knew I had friends and family members who followed me and I did not know what the reaction might be to me disclosing in that way. I did know that I needed to get the burden I was carrying off of my shoulders so that no matter what happened, at least I could be okay with myself. To my surprise, I was met with so much support from so many people. The most important support that day came from my fraternity. I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and have been so for more than 12 years. I received a text that day from someone I crossed with back in 2006, a heterosexual friend who told me that they posted the article in their group chat. They told me that everyone in the group was proud of me and for doing important work around HIV causes for our community. I was not expecting people to fully understand in that way, so it was amazing to be received by various communities of people and not be judged or shamed. I know this will not be the story for everyone, but stories like these let people know that people are out there to support them through this.
I once had someone not understand why I would not sleep with him. I told him that I wanted to have a conversation with him first. He went around and around guessing all sorts of things (i.e. Are you gay? Are you dying?). Lol well, when I told him…he cried. He has since moved to Hawaii and we are still friends. I receive love and support everyday from this amazing community and from my makeup community. I received the most amazing comments of love and support from people I have never met in person, it amazes me every single day.
To tell you the truth I almost always am surprised. I am surprised and overjoyed that they are surprised. When I was younger and newly positive HIV weighed heavily on me, mentally and emotionally. Just building up the courage to tell my truth was a struggle and took so much out of me. I grew up in a large and loving family and feared not being accepted like my existence depended on it. When I began to tell my story, some people removed themselves from my life, but the majority of people I told were in support. Now, my life has evolved. I spent many nights depressed thinking I would not have the family of my dreams. Now with a full family and love overflowing from every corner of my life, when I share my status I receive a very different reaction, one of great surprise. Not only am I living beyond my truth and wildest dreams but I am beyond what my community’s expectations of someone with HIV is supposed to be. If I can continue to be a positive example of possibilities for the community not just as someone HIV positive but as a young man of color, a proud father, an entrepreneur, a man of spirit, and an advocate, I can fight stigma and encourage others to do the same.
My family is always supportive of me even though sometimes it may take awhile. When it came to disclosing my status to them they were all very supportive. Some of their knowledge regarding HIV was outdated or just lacking and has proven to be the biggest obstacle I face with both friends and family. So I am constantly correcting them or informing them of the stuff they do not know. And of course some of them just remain ignorant, but I still love them and they love me. I do not often think about whether or not someone is supportive of me because once someone is not supportive then I have no room in my life for them. I just remove them from my life and focus on the ones who are supportive because they are the only ones that matter.