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Author Topic: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive  (Read 1523 times)

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Offline PiscesAries82

  • Member
  • Posts: 14
"Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« on: November 11, 2013, 02:42:18 PM »
Next month will make one year that I've known of being HIV positive. In the entire time that I've had confirmation of my diagnosis, the idea of telling others has always been in the back of my head. It troubles me to a certain degree, but I am a master at covering it and making sure the world remains clueless of my issues. Since being diagnosed with HIV, I've only told one person and that is my partner of 5 nonconsecutive years. I feel like I've handled the diagnosis fairly well, but now I feel like I need to "come out" and tell more people rather than dealing with this alone. My partner is negative, and although he is supportive in every way imaginable I feel it would be better to maybe talk to someone who is positive and had first hand experience so to speak. I've been playing with the idea of telling  a close friend, and my brother who are both HIV positive. My greatest fear is their reaction. I feel like they would both be crushed and hurt to hear the news. I don't want to be the reason behind anyone's pain. Regardless, I am starting to feel like I need to be "set free" in a sense and "come out" as HIV positive. I don't want sympathy or to be treated special, I just want first hand advice and someone to talk to about it. Any recommendations on how I should go about this? My brother lives in NYC and visits maybe two to four times a year. My close friend lives minutes away from me. Who should I tell first? How should I do it, and what do I need to prepare for. I'm ready to live in my truth. I appreciate any good advice given.

Offline mecch

  • Member
  • Posts: 11,919
  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2013, 02:47:35 PM »
I doubt that your HIV+ brother and your HIV+ close friend are going to be crushed, or hurt by your status.  By all means tell them both and profit from the shared support, knowledge, ease. We're all in this together.
If anyone knows the entire you, they do. Its not like you are telling them you are axe murderer, or are dying...  What would be the hurt?
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline moxieinme

  • Member
  • Posts: 91
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2013, 03:01:33 PM »
Hi Pisces --

Good for you. I say that not just for your decision to seek support and share your experience of living with HIV, but for appearing to be moving through life with a good sense of yourself and care for your needs.

As a long-term survivor, I've gone through many phases about disclosing HIV.  Initially it was just family, then specific close friends. Boyfriends (later partner) of course. In time it widened to professional associates when it seemed my health issues or insurance or employment matters might be affected.

It's only recently that I've come out more to a wider circle of friends. I hadn't disclosed previously out of any shame, and would gladly answer if asked, but for the most part I didn't want to share private information unnecessarily.

This year I realized it's probably more important for me to disclose so that people will have a better understanding of me and what makes me tick, and also to start pushing back against the stigma that too much silence can generate.

I'd also point out it's always better for key people to know in case you have any kind of medical issue, even non-HIV related, that might cause your HIV status to come out inadvertently.

As for your question of how and when, my advice is that it doesn't matter who you tell first, unless it's likely to make a difference to the individuals. It's up to you to judge if that should be a factor. But when I'm ready to tell someone, I usually find a quiet time and place with few distractions, i.e. not in a crowded public place. I start by telling them that they are special to me and their support means a lot to me. Because there is something in my life that does affect how I live my life, the choices I make, and how I relate to others, I want to tell them something in confidence in hopes I can continue to count on their support, but mostly just to be as honest as possible and thus have a stronger and closer bond. I then tell them about my HIV status, and some of the medical background if necessary, ie. how well I'm doing, what I'm doing to take care of myself. I let them know I'm open to any questions. I answer as thoroughly and patiently as possible. But I finish by telling them that I am fine and the only reason I am letting them know if because I love them and they are an important part of my life.

I have never experienced a negative reaction. Anyone who truly loves and respects you will accept you and be honored that you chose to share this very personal part of yourself with them. But it is important that you show how strong and brave you are, and they will be too.

Hope this helps. All the best to you, and here's to living life with love and honesty.

Best,

JD
Salvage therapy wrangler, riding the poz bronco and dodging bullets for over 24 years.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
CD4 at diagnosis 1989 = 330
Began treatment (AZT) 1989
Lowest labs 1998: CD4=74, 7%, VL=750,000
First sustained undetectable VL in 20 years (2009); CD4=315
Current labs (12/13): CD4=637, 27%, VL=<20
Current meds: Prezista, Isentress, Intellence, Norvir

Offline PiscesAries82

  • Member
  • Posts: 14
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2013, 03:31:09 PM »
Moxie,

THANK YOU for your response! I can't express how thankful I am to know that I'm not alone in this. My reason behind not telling anyone is not out of shame, but because I'm just a private person by nature. I want to tell the people closest to me in an effort to break the stigma associated with being HIV positive. In addition to that, I believe the support would be invaluable to my mental well being. Thank you again for responding and offering some great advice. I think I'm going to read your post a few more times. LoL

Hi Pisces --

Good for you. I say that not just for your decision to seek support and share your experience of living with HIV, but for appearing to be moving through life with a good sense of yourself and care for your needs.

As a long-term survivor, I've gone through many phases about disclosing HIV.  Initially it was just family, then specific close friends. Boyfriends (later partner) of course. In time it widened to professional associates when it seemed my health issues or insurance or employment matters might be affected.

It's only recently that I've come out more to a wider circle of friends. I hadn't disclosed previously out of any shame, and would gladly answer if asked, but for the most part I didn't want to share private information unnecessarily.

This year I realized it's probably more important for me to disclose so that people will have a better understanding of me and what makes me tick, and also to start pushing back against the stigma that too much silence can generate.

I'd also point out it's always better for key people to know in case you have any kind of medical issue, even non-HIV related, that might cause your HIV status to come out inadvertently.

As for your question of how and when, my advice is that it doesn't matter who you tell first, unless it's likely to make a difference to the individuals. It's up to you to judge if that should be a factor. But when I'm ready to tell someone, I usually find a quiet time and place with few distractions, i.e. not in a crowded public place. I start by telling them that they are special to me and their support means a lot to me. Because there is something in my life that does affect how I live my life, the choices I make, and how I relate to others, I want to tell them something in confidence in hopes I can continue to count on their support, but mostly just to be as honest as possible and thus have a stronger and closer bond. I then tell them about my HIV status, and some of the medical background if necessary, ie. how well I'm doing, what I'm doing to take care of myself. I let them know I'm open to any questions. I answer as thoroughly and patiently as possible. But I finish by telling them that I am fine and the only reason I am letting them know if because I love them and they are an important part of my life.

I have never experienced a negative reaction. Anyone who truly loves and respects you will accept you and be honored that you chose to share this very personal part of yourself with them. But it is important that you show how strong and brave you are, and they will be too.

Hope this helps. All the best to you, and here's to living life with love and honesty.

Best,

JD

Offline Mrmojorisin

  • Member
  • Posts: 211
    • My Blog
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2013, 03:50:38 PM »
Pisces,
 I was diagnosed about a year and a half ago. My wife and kids know. As do my mom and sister. I have told no one else. Not my father or my brother. I refrain from telling my brother because his wife will probably over react and not allow my nieces and nephews be around me.
I have been toying with the idea of "being public" about my status. My thought process is that on of the things that keeps the stigma going is that many "hide" their status. Giving the illusion that they are ashamed.  The post from phildinftlaudy about his brother kind of punctuated that for me. 
Started Meds On 5/1/2012 Norvair, Truvada, Prezista, and Bactrim

4/17/2012--CD4 83/ VL 353,000  7.0%
5/15/2012--CD4 218/ VL 4,970    14.1%
6/27/2012--CD4 146/ VL 420      6.1%
10/11/2012-CD4-223/ VL-62       9.5%
2/14/2013--CD4-215/ VL-119      13.6%
7/3/2013---CD4-256/ VL-UD       18.0%
10/18/2013 CD4-223/ VL-UD       22.2%
01/23/2014-CD4-381/VL-UD       25.3%--Dropped the Bactrim

"arrrrhhhhh ahhrrhhhhh aaaarrhhh"- Chewbacca

Offline PiscesAries82

  • Member
  • Posts: 14
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2013, 04:20:39 PM »
Mrmojo,

Do you think you'll ever tell your brother, or maybe even your niece and nephew when they're older? I really believe that coming out as HIV positive is almost as nerve wrecking as coming out as gay.

Pisces,
 I was diagnosed about a year and a half ago. My wife and kids know. As do my mom and sister. I have told no one else. Not my father or my brother. I refrain from telling my brother because his wife will probably over react and not allow my nieces and nephews be around me.
I have been toying with the idea of "being public" about my status. My thought process is that on of the things that keeps the stigma going is that many "hide" their status. Giving the illusion that they are ashamed.  The post from phildinftlaudy about his brother kind of punctuated that for me.

Offline hashtag_positive

  • member
  • Posts: 2
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2013, 04:46:14 PM »
Hi, I'm 23, I'm poz and I'm very proud of myself and my status... I have no issues with telling one and I almost experiment with people and tell them to see how they react. But I'm reallllyyyy confident too. It takes very thick skin to be open about your status. I have had people call me dirty and accuse me of being a whore, not knowing me, all assumptions. People say very nasty things about it... If you're not prepared to defend yourself at the drop of a dime... I wouldn't. I have a rather large red ribbon tattooed on my back. Some people know what it means, and some dont. But I set people up to ask me what its for (my cousin is a tattoo artist and its one of the ones in his portfolio).

Offline hashtag_positive

  • member
  • Posts: 2
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2013, 04:47:27 PM »
and i've known for a year and a half.

Offline PiscesAries82

  • Member
  • Posts: 14
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2013, 06:49:27 PM »
Hashtag, I think my greatest battle will be with straight people for lack of better words. I'd like to tell my boss so that he'd know why I'm requesting a vacation day every three months for my doctor's appointment, but I'm weary of the judgement I'll receive. At the same time, as I've said earlier I'm just ready to live in my truth, even if that means defending myself at the drop of a dime. =)
 
Hi, I'm 23, I'm poz and I'm very proud of myself and my status... I have no issues with telling one and I almost experiment with people and tell them to see how they react. But I'm reallllyyyy confident too. It takes very thick skin to be open about your status. I have had people call me dirty and accuse me of being a whore, not knowing me, all assumptions. People say very nasty things about it... If you're not prepared to defend yourself at the drop of a dime... I wouldn't. I have a rather large red ribbon tattooed on my back. Some people know what it means, and some dont. But I set people up to ask me what its for (my cousin is a tattoo artist and its one of the ones in his portfolio).

Offline harleymc

  • Member
  • Posts: 228
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2013, 03:02:52 AM »
I've told heaps of folks over the (28) years, but not everybody.

I've had a couple of nasty responses (I'm not counting rejection as a sex partner... that's a whole different kettle of fish) but 99% of the responses have been very good. I even had a work supervisor break down crying in my arms, his son had died of an AIDS related condition shortly beforehand and he'd felt unable to disclose the cause of his son's death to anyone outside the immediate family.

Sometimes being out about HIV allows us access to worlds of private sorrows and shared intimacy, that allow us to assume very supportive roles to others. Support is not always a one-way street.

Offline ohwell

  • Member
  • Posts: 42
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2013, 07:48:03 PM »
It depends on people i guess, most of my close friends are straight and i told them days after i got my diagnosis, all of them reacted nicely, some of them they have newborns and dont have problems with my holding them (i am the one that's got issues with that even though i know how hiv is transmitted). When I told my family i told them i was hiv+ and gay... well my mom had a more difficult time dealing with the gay thing than hiv, for her that was another disease. My boss is around my age and he's been wonderful, lucky me right?
Each individual is different and you should think about who you disclose, just don't have any expectations some people you'd expect to react better wont and viceversa.
they made me do it

Offline drewm

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,158
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2013, 08:47:03 PM »
I disclose on a need to know basis and when I think there is an opportunity to educate and explain how this disease is now treated.
Diagnosed in  May of 2010 with teh AIDS.

PCP Pneumonia . CD4 8 . VL 500,000

ATRIPLA - VALTREX -  FLUOXETINE - FENOFIBRATE


Numbers consistent since 12/2010 - VL has remained undetectable and CD4 is anywhere from 275-325

Offline ShadowBlue

  • Member
  • Posts: 20
Re: "Coming Out" as HIV Positive
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2013, 10:54:13 AM »
I'd disclosed to close friends and immediate family (Mother, Father, Sister), because at the time I was distraught, in shock, and very desperate for support.

Now that I look back at it, I would have only told my one close friend who was there with me sitting on the hospital bed I laid in as I got my diagnosis.

I feel guilt and deep regret for letting my family know as they (especially my mother who was the second person I let know) didn't deserve another traumatic event in their lives.

The many friends that I let know, as a means of coping or "liberating" myself somehow through the shock; they didn't need to know. Some people have loose tongues (including my father) and the next thing you know you're the talk of the town! The ones who (hopefully) kept it between myself and them, well, there's no purpose in them knowing my HIV status, and it sucks knowing that I can't take out that trivial piece of knowledge that they'll always have.

Lucky for PiscesAries82, he has two great potential outlets with personal experience through having the same diagnosis. I wish I had that option after first finding out!

« Last Edit: November 16, 2013, 10:58:51 AM by ShadowBlue »

 


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