When you just received the diagnosis
If you’ve just found out you have HIV, it’s no wonder you’d feel upset and have tons of questions. In such a state, it can feel important to be able to share with others in your environment. Some experience it as a liberation to be who they are, without hiding anything. Others react just the opposite and close off with their secret. No matter who you are – you don’t have to tell 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 +46 (0)20-78 44 40 or directly to Noaks Ark Östergötland +46 (0)70-4445843. 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, and whether or whom you want to tell.
Many who have told and who were worried about 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. 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 want you well. Just that they need more knowledge.
Questions you can ask yourself
Why do you want to tell?
It is easier to make sure that it is a good thing to tell if you know what reactions you might get, and what benefits it would bring. Maybe that would give you more support and security? Consider whether that 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 has prejudices about sexuality, such questions may arise, and someone who is worried or has poor knowledge about HIV may start asking about ways of transmission. Hopefully, there are also people around you who you feel are calm and safe, in whom you have confidence.
Can they keep it to themselves, is it important?
When you tell someone you have HIV, it can be important to talk about whom they can talk to in turn. Some want to keep it among those closest to them, for others, it is no big deal that more people find out. Someone might even want help telling others.
Telling your partner
No relationship is the same, so it is difficult to give general advice on this. Some are very close to each other in a couple relationship, and talk about everything. It can still be difficult to tell. Others are in a crisis, and then 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 get it through us at Noaks Ark, your treating doctor or counselor can also be helpful.
When you have received treatment
If you have HIV and are receiving treatment, your viral load may become unmeasurable. Once this has been established by the attending physician, you cannot transmit HIV during sex, and are also not obliged to tell your sexual partner.
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 are at the dentist, or when you need medical care. Even with piercings and acupuncture, you must tell them that you are living with HIV or a blood infection. (Blood infection can be different types of hepatitis or HIV, for example.)