If you’ve just found out you have HIV, it’s no wonder you’d feel upset and have tons of questions. When you are in that state, you might feel that it is important to be able to share and talk to people in your close surroundings. Some experience it as liberating to be who you are without hiding anything. Others react just the opposite and keep their secret to themselves. No matter who you are – you don’t have to tell us if you don’t want to. Employers, schools, or employment agencies do not need to know. It is only in special situations that according to the Infection Protection Act you have an obligation to inform that you have HIV, (see below).
If you want to calmly discuss this with someone, you can talk to us at Noaks Ark. If you want to remain anonymous, you can call Noaks Ark Direkt at +46 (0)20-78 44 40. We are here for you.
Familiarize yourself with your new situation
For the vast majority of people, it is easier to make decisions when you have had time to think things through, familiarize yourself with your new situation, and see what different choices you have. To choose if you want to tell anyone and, in that case, to whom.
Many who have told someone and had been worried how the news would be received, testify that their worries were unfounded. It is also not uncommon for help and support to come from someone you did not expect. One of the negative reactions include distancing, sometimes you can also be asked questions that you think are too private or difficult to answer.
The most important thing for you to be prepared for is that not everyone has the same knowledge about HIV as you do. Some have no knowledge at all, perhaps they become unnecessarily afraid and worried. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you, or wish you well. Just that they need more knowledge.
Questions you can ask yourself
Why do you want to tell?
It is easier to confident that it is a good thing to tell people about your situation if you know what reactions you might get, and what benefits it would bring. Maybe it would give you more support and confidence? Consider whether it is a realistic expectation. Some are more open and understanding than others, something you may have experienced from previous situations.
How will they react, what do you expect?
Imagine how they will react, both the best and the worst. If someone in your environment is prejudiced about your sexuality, then questions regarding your sexuality may arise. someone who is worried or has poor knowledge about HIV may start asking about ways of infection. Hopefully, there are also people in your surrounding whom you feel safe with and who are calm and collected. People in whom you have confidence.
Is it important to you that they can keep it to themselves?
When you decide to tell someone you are living with HIV, it can be important to talk about if and whom they in their turn can talk to about it. Some people want to make sure that the information about their diagnosis stays among those closest to them, for others it is no big deal that more people find out. Someone might even want help with telling others.
Telling your partner
It is difficult to give general advice on telling your partner as no relationship is the same. Some couples are very close to each other and can talk about everything. With this said, it can still be difficult to tell. If your relationship is in a crisis, talking about an HIV notification can feel almost impossible. It can also be what binds the relationship together. If you want advice and support about telling your partner, you can receive support through us here at Noaks Ark. Your treating doctor or counselor may also be of help.
When you have received treatment
If you have HIV and are receiving treatment, your amount of virus may become unmeasurable. Once this has been established by the attending physician, you can no longer transmit HIV during sex. You are at this point not obliged to tell your sexual partner about your diagnosis.
The times when you are obliged to tell
The Infectious Diseases Act states: “Anyone who knows or has reason to suspect that he or she is carrying an infectious disease is obliged to take the necessary measures to protect others against the risk of infection.” (Chapter 2 § 2)
On the condition that you receive treatment and the amount of virus becomes unmeasurable, the situations you may find yourself in where this becomes relevant to inform that you are living with HIV or a blood infection are at the dentist, when you need medical care, or with piercings and acupuncture. (Blood infection can be different types of hepatitis or HIV, for example.)