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Disclosing to Parents / Family

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Disclosing to my parents was pretty difficult. My parents are conservative christians. It was the first time we actually ever talked about sex. My relationship with my parents is strained in many ways as they never approved of me moving away and trying to make my life as a musician. But I decided that the stress of lying to them about what I was going through was not worth it anymore. They knew I had been very ill but I hadn't told them why. Just some bad flu I told them. But all in all they're good people and provided me a good childhood. I love them and they love me.

Details of transmission are up to you. You're in control. I know it seems like how you got it is a big deal, but as the above posts point out over time it just isn't going to matter anymore. You're just a son or a brother that happens to have a disease.

My parents definitely asked some questions about who I got it from. I kept it simple. Went out, got drunk, went home with a stranger, had sex. To their credit they never accused me of being gay. And that the woman was a transexual just doesn't seem like any of their business, nor anything I think they could really understand. At a certain point I did answer their questions about details with, 'It really doesn't matter'.  Some of my friends don't even know the details of how I got hiv. I guess I would tell them if they asked, but it really doesn't matter.

Disclosure is up to you. But for me it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. And while it's been hard for my parents and sometimes their prodding on what am I going to do with my life now has been annoying...they've really been very supportive.

I think the important factor in the equation is YOU. Is this going to help YOU? You shouldn't worry so much about what they will think. You're the one in crisis, not them.

Joe K:
Hey David,

Yes disclosing to family, especially parents, can be quite a challenge, but I just don't understand why you have to tell her HOW you got it.  If you feel it's really important, then just tell her you assume it was sexually transmitted and that you don't know when, so that might evade all those questions about the relationship.  But I still have to wonder why you have to disclose the HOW.

I often wonder if cancer patients get queried about how they got their cancer, because it just doesn't seem to have any relevance.  You've done the responsible thing by telling past partners and I believe you have the right to not disclose how you got it, because like you said, the important part is that I'm infected.

I had the same conversation with my folks and I skipped how I got it and let them draw their own conclusions.  Then again, they weren't the best supporters, so I suggest that you just go with your gut.

I have not told my parents and I don't plan to. Initially I didn't tell them because I didn't want to deal with the inevitable blaming of my partner. In the early years I waffled back and forth on whether I should tell them. My parents are now in their 80s, I'm healthy and I see no reason to tell them. I'm not sick and don't need their support regarding HIV. I don't feel a burden of keeping a secret because HIV doesn't play that big of a role in my life right now. Maybe it's my WASPy background but I would never think to discuss details of my sex life with my parents and I sure don't want to hear about theirs!

Well, my folks kind of figured it out on their own when I was hospitalized with PCP.  I mean, what gay 30 year old ends up in the hospital with a lung infection?  Yeap, only us poz boys and girls.  Plus, since my partner had to work, I needed help around the house while i was healing.  There were two things worse than telling them:

1.  Explaining how my partner was neg and I was poz...
2.  Convincing my partner's parents that I would not make him sick....

I could have never gotten as far as I have without my family and glad I "told" them.

Well, when I ended up in hospital in 1995 with some "lunginfection" my parents never came to see me.
I knew then that they were afraid of the truth.

I called my sister and the first thing for her was to ask me, in tears, how I had lived with that secret for so many years. Her daughters were age 16, 14 and 8. She told them the truth. They wrote me the most beautiful poems and letters, full of teenage girllove and so open.... Thank you sis for that task.

On my return from the hospital I stopped by at my parents. They were in their early seventies then.
I told them to sit down and that I had an announcement to make :
Mom and dad, I have HIV and I am not going to live much longer.
Mom sobbed and dad said : I knew.

But after the first tears mom said these historic words. The same she had pronounced  20 years before, when I told her I was gay : you are our son in the first place and we love you.
We hugged and I realised I was more afraid  to touch them as they were to touch me.

My mom, who is 82 now, will regularly ask me about my labresults and even call me to say they have found new drugs.
But they asked me one thing : to let this be their secret in the family: It was hard , but I respected it.

Disclosing to my friends happened one by one.
I remember Ann, who's son had a cold and sweetly winked at me when I visited them: I thought he was afraid of me, but then I heard he had asked his mom ( he was 6 then) wether his cold was a threat for my health.

Nowadays when I disclose, it is mostly me that has to hug the party involved.
I tell them to take their time to let it sink in and that, NO, I am not going to die.

And I always finish by telling them : I am still Herman, still your friend in the first place , and now you know that I have HIV.

One other friend made me really cry. Upon my disclosure he said : for the first time in my life, AIDS has a face.

And I am glad I am still around here to tell you my story.

Just be confident.  Mothers especially have that sixth sense. They simply know.



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