Guest Author - Jontay Watson
One of the hardest decisions about HIV/AIDS is deciding who to tell. Who needs to know? As a common courtesy, past lovers need to be informed; however the CDC has an anonymous program that you can participate in order to notify them that someone they have been intimate with has come up positive for HIV/AIDS and they need to have themselves tested. This may seem like the cowardís way out but there is just no way to gauge how people will react to number one knowing that you have the virus and number two that they have been exposed.
There are even some questions about which family members, past or current lover(s) need to know. You have to ask yourself some hard questions. Is telling this person about my status going to benefit me? Are they going to be supportive of me? Are they able to keep this information to themselves? If not, am I mentally and emotionally ready for peopleís reactions? Do they really need to know?
It can seem like such a trivial thing but knowledge is power. Once you have put that information out into the world, you cannot get it back. So be careful of who you disclose your status with. Some people are just not mentally mature enough to handles such information. The biggest key to helping people understand the virus is education. Most people are not equipped with the facts; which leads them to rely on hearsay or myths. Making sure that they have the facts about HIV/AIDS will help them transition smoothly. Have pamphlets ready to answer any questions they may have about HIV/AIDS.
The process of deciding which friends need to know should go through the same scrutiny that deciding what family members need to know. Will this information change the feeling of the relationship? Will they start acting differently towards me? Will they be able to keep this information to themselves or will they spread this information to my other friends and acquaintances? The best decision is keeping this information on a need to know basis. If they donít need to know, simply donít tell them. This part of your life is a very delicate situation and you need people around you that are going to be supportive and understanding; not judgmental and foolish.
Coworkers and bosses donít really need to know unless you work in a field where you are a danger to individuals by having HIV/AIDS. Having HIV/AIDS is not going to affect how you perform your job functions and therefore it is not crucial information for them to obtain.
Only disclose your status to people who will be able to mentally and emotionally handle the information. This will make your life easier in the long run. If it is going to change the atmosphere of the situation between you and the person you are considering telling, it is best to keep your status to yourself. Some people do not need to know.
For more information about disclosure, please visit: http://www.thewellproject.org/en_US/Womens_Center/HIV_and_Disclosure.jsp