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"Coming Out" as HIV Positive

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PiscesAries82:
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.

mecch:
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?

moxieinme:
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

PiscesAries82:
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


--- Quote from: moxieinme 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

--- End quote ---

Mrmojorisin:
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. 

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