Disclosing your status

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 06, 2011 3:07 PM GMT
    I found out I was HIV+ less than 2 weeks ago, and I'm wondering if anyone can share their experiences about disclosing their status to others.

    I told my partner right away, as well as close friends.

    I've also told some people at work, who I am close to, including my direct boss, and the VP of our department. I should mention I work in the HR department of a major university, and I've been here 14 years, so these are some long relationships, and the people here do take confidentiality seriously.

    All of the responses I've received have been very warm and sincere, and I am very pleased by that.

    I am torn about telling my parents, who are in their mid-70s, because I really don't want them to worry about me. They have a myriad of health issue of their own to deal with, and I don't want to burden them with more worry. I know they won't reject me or anything like, but I feel I need to protect them.

    As for my siblings, even though they are loving and supportive, I really don't interact with them much.

    So is anyone interested in giving advice or sharing their experiences?

    Thanks
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 06, 2011 5:03 PM GMT
    I dont have HIV so I may not be able to help you here, but I can say that I have appreciated people telling me that they have HIV upfront as opposed to not telling me.

    It doesnt make a difference, condamns work.
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    Jun 06, 2011 5:05 PM GMT
    i wouldnt tell the parents but the siblings yeah.
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    Jun 06, 2011 5:06 PM GMT
    dekiruman saidi wouldnt tell the parents but the siblings yeah.


    that's how I'm leaning.
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    Jun 06, 2011 5:07 PM GMT
    Don't have any advice but just wanted to say that I think you are handling this really well. As I am sure you know, HIV can be managed and I am confident you will be doing just fine. Big hugs!
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    Jun 06, 2011 5:12 PM GMT
    sashaman saidDon't have any advice but just wanted to say that I think you are handling this really well. As I am sure you know, HIV can be managed and I am confident you will be doing just fine. Big hugs!


    Thanks, it isvery much appreciated icon_biggrin.gif I always try to keep a level head.
  • JonPk

    Posts: 132

    Jun 06, 2011 7:27 PM GMT
    I wouldn't tell them. They probably have enough to worry about as it is. I hope you stay healthy and have a long happy life.
    medfordguy saidI found out I was HIV+ less than 2 weeks ago, and I'm wondering if anyone can share their experiences about disclosing their status to others.

    I told my partner right away, as well as close friends.

    I've also told some people at work, who I am close to, including my direct boss, and the VP of our department. I should mention I work in the HR department of a major university, and I've been here 14 years, so these are some long relationships, and the people here do take confidentiality seriously.

    All of the responses I've received have been very warm and sincere, and I am very pleased by that.

    I am torn about telling my parents, who are in their mid-70s, because I really don't want them to worry about me. They have a myriad of health issue of their own to deal with, and I don't want to burden them with more worry. I know they won't reject me or anything like, but I feel I need to protect them.

    As for my siblings, even though they are loving and supportive, I really don't interact with them much.

    So is anyone interested in giving advice or sharing their experiences?

    Thanks
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 06, 2011 8:31 PM GMT
    Hey bud,
    I have no concept of what you must be going through but I think your family and closest friends have a right to know in time.
    They will need to be aware of what's going on, plus you may be surprized as to how helpful and supportive they canwill be.

    When it comes to what you are faced with, the only peace I can offer you is this...

    Many people now live long, happy lives having HIV, so keep on living life the best way you know how, and demanding nothing but the best for yourself. Be Honest, Strong, and Safe and take to heart that so many of us are with you.

    Your in my prayers.
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    Jun 06, 2011 8:44 PM GMT
    Jon & Stolen,

    Thanks for the comments. My parents live 300 miles away, and I only see then 4-6 times a year, my siblings even less (they all live in NJ). I talk to my mom every week.

    I am going down in a couple of weeks because my parents are celebrating their 55th anniversary and renewing their vows. My brothers will be there, and I will probably tell them but not my parents. It's a special, happy day for them, I don't want to bring sad news to it. I know they will be supportive, they always have been, but I feel like I don't want to burden them with additional worries.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 06, 2011 8:51 PM GMT
    I limit disclosure of my status to certain family members, very close friends and potential sex partners.

    I am not a big fan of disclosure in the work place. Though I have never disclosed at work myself, I have had several friends that have had very negative experiences. Keep in mind that a workplace is the one place in the universe where something travels faster than the speed of light. Chances are that the whole office will know about it before you complete your first sentence disclosing it to someone you think you can trust.

    Also keep in mind that if you voluntarily disclose your personal health information to persons outside of the management, human resources and benefits administration structure, you've pretty much waived your HIPPA protection of privacy in the workplace. Meaning that if you feel your boss or hr person blabbed it to the wrong person and created a negative work environment, you cannot prove they violated your privacy if you have been willingly disclosing it others in your workplace.
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    Jun 06, 2011 8:55 PM GMT
    It says you are in a monogamous relationship since 1994.......I am not trying to be a dick, I'm just confused.

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    Jun 06, 2011 9:04 PM GMT
    Asuguy2005 saidIt says you are in a monogamous relationship since 1994.......I am not trying to be a dick, I'm just confused.



    Honest question. The monogamy wasn't 100%. We've now come to terms with that and agree that our relationship is much more than just a sexual component. I'm not going into details here, but we both love each other and can forgive indiscretions, even if they lead to HIV. He's been at my side since finding out.
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    Jun 06, 2011 9:20 PM GMT
    Chainers said
    It doesnt make a difference, condamns work.


    LMAO.

    I'm not sure if that was intentional or not- maybe you'll pretend like it was now-

    A necessary evil?
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    Jun 06, 2011 9:21 PM GMT
    robotronic said
    Chainers said
    It doesnt make a difference, condamns work.


    LMAO.

    I'm not sure if that was intentional or not- maybe you'll pretend like it was now-

    A necessary evil?


    It was intentional, and no its not evil I just thought it was funny.
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    Jun 06, 2011 9:46 PM GMT
    medfordguy said
    Asuguy2005 saidIt says you are in a monogamous relationship since 1994.......I am not trying to be a dick, I'm just confused.



    Honest question. The monogamy wasn't 100%. We've now come to terms with that and agree that our relationship is much more than just a sexual component. I'm not going into details here, but we both love each other and can forgive indiscretions, even if they lead to HIV. He's been at my side since finding out.


    Oh wow.....well I am sorry things worked out that way and I'm glad you have such a great support system......

    Hopefully this story is a lesson for other guys who are in LTR.....use protection always.
  • suedeheadscot

    Posts: 1130

    Jun 06, 2011 10:01 PM GMT
    hey medfordguy, there are several resources available on the Terrence Higgins Trust website, www.tht.org.uk. It may be worth checking in on them - so you can have a look. One in particular focuses on emotional wellbeing and telling others. Get back to me if you can't find them!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 06, 2011 10:10 PM GMT
    You have already told the most important person, your partner. Any other potential sexual partners in the future you will also have to tell. Whether to tell friends and relatives is just a personal choice. I would be leery about disclosing your status at work. Instead of compassion, just like type 1 diabetes or cancer, hiv can be seen as $$$ to an employer.
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    Jun 07, 2011 12:24 AM GMT
    Everyone, thank you for all the support and advice. I truly appreciate it. I think when it comes to disclosing your status, besides to your sexual partners, which should always be done, is to use your best discretion. Like coming out of the closet, it should be done at a pace you're comfortable with, and to people you can count on.

    You guys are what RJ a great site.

    Peace
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    Jun 07, 2011 12:37 AM GMT
    Hi medfordguy,

    I've been a therapist at an AIDS agency since 2003, and I've worked with hundreds of HIV+ people in that time. Many of them were recently diagnosed, and I can assure you that disclosure of HIV status is usually one of the biggest issues that comes up.

    I don't usually give advice and I'm not going to start now, but I am going to say a few things for your consideration. The first is this: Time is on your side. You don't have to tell everyone who you want to know at once, or right now. You can take your time in this process. Often, people will say that it feels different 6 months or a year after diagnosis, both in terms of handling the disclosure and in terms of being able to manage the reactions of the other person.

    Also, disclosure is an on-going process, not a one-time thing. It's like coming out of the closet in that way--you don't do it once, you get the make the decision of whether or not you do with each person in your life. With some people the decision is easy (for example, a sex partner is an obvious one, and on the other end of the spectrum, so is the mail lady), and with others it is more difficult.

    Finally, once you tell someone that you have HIV, you cannot take that information back. That's not to say that you should be afraid to disclose your status, just that once you release information into the world you can no longer control it--including that you can not shape how it is repeated.

    You might also want to look into your state's laws regarding disclosure. Here in Michigan, it is a felony *not* to disclose HIV status to a sex partner, but it is also a crime for an individual to disclose someone else's HIV status without their consent. See what laws your state has that protect you.

    Good luck to you, and thanks for asking the question.


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    Jun 10, 2011 4:23 AM GMT
    I've known since 1997 but still haven't told my mother or my neighbors or my CPA. Although my CPA can probably figure it out if he tries, what with my outrageous medical expenses.

    It's your own journey that only you can take. From what I've heard it can be a great relief to shout it from the rooftops, but I'm not interested in doing that.
  • squash4dave

    Posts: 180

    Jun 10, 2011 4:32 AM GMT
    I've been HIV+ for about 23 years, that I know of, and although I don't hide it, I certainly don't go around broadcasting it, either. Everyone in my family knows, my close friends know, and I absolutely tell anyone that I was about to go home with. I let them know well before hand, because I always want them to not feel pressured about it. If I sprang it on them at the last minute, they might not have the time to fully analyze the situation. I don't think that that is fair to them. When I first found out, don't forget, things were very different. There was a lot of misinformation out there. There was more of a stigma, and there was no cocktail. I honestly didn't think that I would be alive today. I am not afraid of telling people that I am not that close with, if I feel that they are trustworthy. So, you have to make that decision for yourself.

    As far as telling your parents, I told my father, but not my mother. I knew better. But, you know your parents. If they are supportive people, then tell them. If they aren't, well you will have to decide. But, just remember, today HIV is not the death sentence that it once was. You can tell them that. You may not want to worry them, but keeping a secret like that can be hard on you, too.

    I am sorry to see anyone turn poz, but at least you are in an era where you can lead a pretty normal life. The meds are getting better (except for the cost) all the time. Less toxic and more convenient to take. But, remember, all the most recent studies show that getting in treatment EARLY provides the best outcome. And BE RELIGIOUS ABOUT TAKING YOUR MEDS! I say this as a patient and a doctor. You cannot take your meds haphazardly. Not taking them consistently can lead to the virus developing resistance to them.

    Know also, that the meds do have side effects. They may cause insomnia, vivid dreams, some may even get suicidal thoughts. I was on one that did that. One older med caused me to have peripheral neuropathy, basically pain in the lower extremities. The protease inhibitors can cause lipodystrophy (lipoatrophy), which is redistribution of fat deposits away from the face and extremities to the trunk area. So, you are going to have to pay attention to your diet. Deposits around the trunk area are not good for coronary artery disease.
    I hope that I am not scaring you, but I think that you ought to know some of the things that may or may not happen. Forewarned is forearmed. I'm still here and kicking, so...

    If I haven't totally freaked you out and you want to talk, you can always email me.
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    Jun 10, 2011 4:44 AM GMT
    Chainers saidI dont have HIV so I may not be able to help you here, but I can say that I have appreciated people telling me that they have HIV upfront as opposed to not telling me.

    It doesnt make a difference, condamns work.


    Yeah, this will make me "that guy" but they don't work all of the time. If they did, HIV wouldn't be as much of a problem (or more so) than it's been in the past 30 years.

    EDIT: As for disclosure, honesty is the best policy. Just think of the Golden Rule, would you appreciate it if someone disclosed their status to you? Obviously, not every situation is high risk, I don't think you should feel pressured to disclose your status to acquaintances/friends unless you feel you need to or because the nature of your interactions with them mandates that you should do so.
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    Jun 10, 2011 5:02 AM GMT
    Hey man. My opinion with you describing your distance & relationships with your family I dont think I would tell any of them. How is telling your siblings right now going to help? If something happens & you need help its not like you will have them close by to help out ya know? Like the previous poster said, once you put it out there you cant take it back.

    Telling your partner & him standing by you literally brought tears to my eyes. It makes me wonder if me leaving my ex was the right thing or not, but he cheated & then gave it to me & still wouldn't be man enough to admit it. I think him lying to me hurt more than anything.

    You guys sound like you have a beautiful & loving relationship. Even so he will never know what its like to have it. It changes you, makes you reprioritize your life. He sounds loving & understanding so always try to keep the lines of communication open about how you both are feeling.

    There are alot of people that will be sympathetic to your situation but no one really knows how it feels other than others like us that have it.

    Remember your not alone. If you ever need to chat give me a shout man.

    As far as disclosure Ive told my best friends & my partner at the time & thats been it so far (& sexual partners). I had a few experiences that put me in the hospital, my ex was to far away & if it weren't for my friends I dont know what I would've done.

    If you do decide to tell some people & they shy away from you dont be surprised. Alot of people still are not informed & are scared. When ive disclosed to someone ive always made sure to tell them im an open book & will answer any questions they have. This opens the lines of communication, puts them at ease for asking questions & learning theres nothing for them to fear.
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    Jun 10, 2011 5:19 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle said
    Animus said
    Yeah, this will make me "that guy" but they don't work all of the time. If they did, HIV wouldn't be as much of a problem (or more so) than it's been in the past 30 years.


    False, people who succumb to HIV are nine times out of time not using condoms. And I would even go so far that every case people who get HIV are not using condoms or do not know how to use them correctly and are swapping bodily fluids. But everyone I know that has HIV succumbed to the virus because they did not use condoms.


    This. If your a bottom and you have unprotected sex, you have a 1 in 250 chance of getting HIV. If you use a condom it goes to 1 in a million. Condamns work people. Get it in your head.
  • jim_sf

    Posts: 2094

    Jun 10, 2011 5:44 AM GMT
    So, back to the OP....

    First: you deserve a big hug and hearty thanks for being brave enough to discuss this here. You're also very lucky to have a good support network around you.

    As far as your question: fortunately or unfortunately, this something that you'll have to feel out on your own, based on your own temperament and how you think others might react. Some guys choose not to tell any of their loved ones; others tell everyone they know.

    I tend towards the middle ground; I don't broadcast, but I also don't try to hide it. That has worked pretty well for me, on multiple fronts, but it may not for others. I don't judge any approach, as long as potential sex partners know the situation up-front and as long as there's no active deception taking place. (Active deception on this is reprehensible, and any fraudulent fucking coward who does that deserves our collective scorn and maybe even a good smack or two upside the head.)