Life Living with hiv HIV Stigma Disclosing your HIV status to your partner It could be that you have fallen head over heels for someone or that you have entered a stage of serious dating. Perhaps you’re in an open relationship. Or perhaps you’ve been with your partner for a few years or perhaps even married. So how do you broach the subject of your HIV status with the one you love (or really like a lot)? “I don't think you have any moral obligation to disclose your status; but I do think some people might feel slighted by not being told. That, and it can start to eat away at you and get harder to tell the more you keep it a secret,” Ioan, 26. What should you tell your partner? “Own your status, but don't let it define you. And accept the fact that you will face rejection from guys who are ill-informed about HIV. But remember that the feelings that may arise from this aren't facts - you're still an amazing human being deserving of love, warmth, affection,” Dan, 44. As with anyone in your life, if you are disclosing your status to a partner, keep it in simple terms and be direct. Tell them in the simplest terms possible. Explain that if you are on effective treatment and have an undetectable viral load, they are in no danger of getting HIV. Sometimes, the earlier you tell them the better, so it doesn’t feel like you have been keeping something from them. However, if you have struggled to tell them, then communicate that. Explain why disclosing your status was difficult. When should you tell your partner? “It can be essential to be honest and upfront, dating or going into a more committed relationship means honesty is key to success,” Adrian, 38. When you tell your partner is up to you. However, the earlier you tell them the easier it may be. No one likes to think they have had something kept from them. Trust is important in a relationship. It may be more difficult to disclose as time goes on, however make sure you communicate to your partner your difficulty in disclosing your status. Remember, this is as much about you as it is him. Where should you tell your partner? “I’m single and if I'm disclosing to someone I could date, I like to get it out of the way early, we can chat about it. I’d rather know that, if they are not comfortable, I can either try to address it or, if they are put off, it's like the rubbish takes itself out!” Steve 31. If you live together, the privacy of your home might be best. If you don’t want to do it at home, choose somewhere neutral and private. Perhaps you have a favourite spot that evokes good memories. A face-to-face and honest conversation is what is needed in this situation, so it’s wherever best you can do that. Why are you telling your partner? “I think when and if a relationship develops then it is right to disclose. There is no 'right or wrong' time to do this - I think one intuitively knows when to say it. And my reason for advocating this because it's part of trust-building between two people. Relationships are about sharing feelings, communicating and compromise. Inevitably there will situations when a boyfriend or partner is upset, at least initially and while they process it. If, however they react badly, and specifically I mean an accusatory or abusive way, then remember the problem is with them and not ourselves.” Paul, 55. Think about the reasons you want to tell your partner. Maybe you want an honest relationship without secrets. Maybe it’s just because you love them. Whatever your reason, make sure it’s right for you. There is no guarantee that your relationship will be strong enough to survive the news that you have HIV, but many are. What if you feel like you can’t confide in your partner? If you feel like you can’t talk to your friends, family or a partner, there are support services available to provide help, advice or even if you just need someone to talk to: Contact THT Direct on 0808 802 1221. Contact Positively UK on 020 7713 0444.