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Disclosing to Parents / Family

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Hi guys (and gals),

I've mentioned before that I was diagnosed HIV+ back in March.  I've told most of the sex partners that I've had about this.  Actually, I should say 'we' instead of 'I', as my partner and I have played around together quite a bit; he's poz too.  I've told about six really close friends and my ex, who are all really supportive.  I've always been close to my mom and sister and not telling them is really bothering me.  The multiple sex partners and disclosing to family members is a big part of the problem.  I don't want to go into a lot of the 'dirty' details to my mom, but I don't want her to think my partner or I were cheating on the other.  If I don't mention anything about multiple partners, the natural assumption will be that my partner infected me.  My mom lives in the same town and I see her a lot, so hiding this will be difficult.  I came out to her and my sister about being gay back when I was still married to my ex wife, and they were ok with it.  In fact, they really like my partner.  My partner and I have been together for seven years and he is really a part of the extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts, nieces, etc.  This is something that's really bothering me.  I feel like I'm being dishonest and depriving myself of the support of my family.

It's one thing to tell my family that I have this disease.  It's another thing to tell them that I stupidly got it from sexual transmission.  It's a much bigger deal to tell them that I got it from outside the relationship.  I'm just hoping that they'll not get stuck on how I got infected but instead concentrate on the fact that I am infected.  How have those in similar situations handled this?  What was the outcome?


Hi David,
I found out I was + in '93 and only told my husband. With hindsight, it would have been an easier road for me if I told my closest friends and family. My Mom found out when I was in the ICU 5 years ago. I feel bad about that, it was not fair that she had to find out that way. Day one your daughter might not live, day two she is positive. It was hard for her.

This past year, I disclosed to my two best friends, their husbands and parents. They new I was not well, but did not know 100% what it was, but did suspect it could be hiv. It actually, for as horrible as I replayed possible scenarios in my head, was not that difficult to tell them.

I said, I had something I needed to tell them- and I said it. I did not get into specific details on transmission. They thanked me for telling them, they were glad that the elephant that was in the room during the last year was out. They said they wished I told them earlier, so they could have helped more. They have supported me, and loved me through all of it.

In later conversations, I told them they could ask whatever they wanted, and that is when we spoke about transmission. Personally, for me, I decided they could ask whatever questions they wanted, and I would answer.  But, I do not think it is inappropriate for you to set whatever boundaries you want when discussing the hiv. Explain to them, right now, you can only share a little at a time.

From your post, your family sounds very loving and warm. When the time is right for you to disclose, you will know, and you can set the boundaries on how much you want to share and when. Ask them to respect those boundaries in a loving way, and I think they will.

I told my mother when I found out June '97, I worked abroad and had to make an urgent trip to the hospital in my hometown, she cried and I told her not to, that I was going to get the meds and survive (bluffing, but hey) I told my three younger siblings (two sisters, one brother) because I feel closest to them. My two older brothers found out because one of them said 'how's your health' (something like 'how are things going" in our language) and I told him and realised they hadn't known. I got nothing but support and more love than before, but I later found out it was hard for my mother, my youngest sister who's in the States, and my younger brother who's a marine. I was glad they too had someone to talk about it, but once I was doing well then they worried less. We never discussed sex or transmission. I haven't told it to my godmother, who since then passed away, I think in order to protect her or not to disappoint her, that has bothered me since.


--- Quote from: David_NC on June 05, 2006, 08:59:26 AM ---I'm just hoping that they'll not get stuck on how I got infected but instead concentrate on the fact

--- End quote ---

I think most people focus on how to go forward. I think natural curiosity will lead people to ask a few light questions (I was never grilled by anyone) ---I find that people are more interested in the here and now and the future. My family members fall into that category. Guess I underestimated their coolness and life skills

It's a difficult and very brave thing to do--disclosing.  The truth is you can only tell YOUR TRUTH and try very hard not to worry about how anyone will react.  Easier said than done.  What someone else can or can't "get past" is their own issue, like it or not.  I disclosed to my parents back in '88, and my mother STILL thinks my partner of 18 years "made me sick."  HE'S NEGATIVE!!!!  I can't focus on making her, or anyone else happy about my having AIDS.  Nor can I feel guilty about how I got it!!  Water under the bridge.  Present the facts.  Relieve yourself of the stress and anguish.  Maybe provide some resources for your family to help them cope.  But that, my friend, is all you can do for them!  You cannot control how they're going to feel about it, or respond.  You contracted a serious illness that happened to be through sexual contact.  We're human beings--sexual beings.  It's normal and natural for all of us.  Wrong place, wrong time, wrong person... whatever.  Don't beat yourself up over and over again trying to trace your steps.  Make your peace with honesty and dignity.  That's all you can do.  You have nothing to be ashamed of!!  GOOD LUCK!  I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOING THROUGH!! 


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