Telling people you have HIV is a life- long process. There can be lots to consider, so if you want to talk about it, feel free to contact us – we’ve supported lots of women in the process. You don’t have to disclose in all personal relationships, but if you don’t disclose to sex partners you could be criminally charged.
Women who have been living with HIV for years say that telling people can get easier over time, but it’s rarely easy. Telling your family and friends is different than telling a sex partner or going to a new doctor and disclosing as part of your health history. Telling your children is something different again.
Learning about HIV transmission can help you understand that the chance of your friends or family getting HIV from you is extremely small. This makes disclosure your choice. The chance of transmitting HIV to sexual partners is real, particularly if you are having unprotected sex. In Canada, you may face criminal charges if you knowingly keep your HIV status from your sexual partner, especially if the sex is unprotected. Disclosing to sex partners is hard, but essential. For the most up to date information on HIV disclosure and the law, visit the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.
If you are thinking about telling your children,there are some special things to consider, like the age and knowledge of your kids, what kind of support there is for them, or how much to tell them at one time.
When you decide to disclose your status, women have found these things worked:
You do not have to tell your landlord, neighbours or employer about your HIV status, especially if doing so could change your housing or employment situation. If you are being threatened with eviction or job loss because of your HIV status, contact an advocate immediately – you have rights.