How to Talk to Friends and Family About Your HIV


Susan Fishman

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There is no right or wrong way to tell someone you have HIV. But trying to explain your condition and symptoms to others is not such an easy task. Every family is different and has its own unique way of handling things, as do friends and people in general.

But knowing that others understand what you’re going through and are there to support you can help with the stress of your condition, and actually improve your health. Studies have shown that people who disclose their HIV status respond better to treatment than those who don’t. Friends and family can offer support and take some of the weight off your shoulders. But you don’t have to tell everybody. If you feel someone may hold it against you or won’t walk with you down this road, focus on the ones who will.

Consider these things before telling your family or friends:

What kind of relationship do you have? Is this a close family member or friend? Will this person be supportive, judgmental or perhaps even abandon you based on the news? If you have children, consider whether your child is mature enough to handle the information. Educate yourself so you can talk to your child about your condition and answer any questions. And make sure your child knows that he or she can’t “catch” HIV, a common concern for kids, as well as some adults.

Managing HIV goes beyond just taking your medications—you’ve also got to live a healthy life. These patients and physicians share how you can give your body what it needs to thrive with HIV.

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