Newly Diagnosed (2009) : To Tell or Not to Tell

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
POZ Focus

Back to home » HIV 101 » POZ Focus » Newly Diagnosed (2009)

Table of Contents

Take our survey!

From the Editor

First Steps

To Tell or Not to Tell

Ask the Sexpert

Perfect Match

More than HIV

Whole Body, Whole Self

Time for HIV Treatment?

Financial Health

Know Your Lab Tests

Click here to download a copy of Newly Diagnosed (2009).

What You're Talking About
Losing Hope (blog) (22 comments)

Mad That Bill Maher Promoted a Quack AIDS Doc? Then Do This. (20 comments)

You Can't Hurry Love (14 comments)

I Watched Charlie Sheen on The Dr. Oz Show So You Don't Have To (blog) (14 comments)

Charlie Sheen S&%ts On 30 Years of AIDS Activism (blog) (14 comments)

Remember Their Names: World AIDS Day 2015 (blog) (13 comments)
Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


To Tell or Not to Tell

If you just found out you have HIV, you need support.

If you just found out you have HIV, you need support. But telling your family, friends and coworkers about your status can be a scary prospect. With the exception of sexual partners—see next page—there’s no deadline for telling people. Some do it right away. Others need to take time to adjust to the news.

Consider these quick tips when deciding whether to tell—or not:

Be sure to go over the five Ws when thinking about disclosure: who, what, when, where and why. Whom do you need to tell? What do you want to tell them about your HIV infection, and what are you expecting from them? When should you tell them? Where is the best place to have this conversation? Why are you telling them?
  • You have a virus. That doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. You don’t have anything to apologize for simply because you are HIV positive.
  • There’s no perfect roadmap for how to disclose. Trust your instincts, not your fears. Also, keep it simple—you don’t have to tell the story of your life.
  • Having some information on hand, such as a phone number for an AIDS hotline and the Web address for POZ (, can be helpful. Encourage people to research these trusted sources of information and to get back to you with questions or concerns they may have.  
  • Even if you don’t get the response you were hoping for, remember that it can take some time to process major information. Millions of others have dealt with difficult disclosure experiences and have found their way through it—you will too.
  • If you are still not able to tell close friends, family members or other loved ones about your HIV status, allow yourself to draw upon the support and experience available to you through organized groups in the HIV community. Consider the POZ community forums ( for example.
Tell It Like It Is
Disclosing your HIV status may never be easy, but it can yield the support you need and, in some cases, positive outcomes you never expected. But don’t just take our word for it.

Andy Hansen, Diagnosed 1985
Hansen waited for three years to disclose his HIV status to his parents, fearing the information would cause them pain. When he eventually told them, he says, “They were very supportive and wanted to know how they could help me. They respected my decision to [wait], but also regretted that they were not able to know the truth about what I was facing.”

David Greene, Diagnosed 2007
When he suffered a jaw infection in 2008, Greene knew he’d need to disclose his recent HIV status to the staffs of two different dentists. “In one day, I had to reveal my status to six different people!” And much to his surprise, “The kindness and respect I received was wonderful, and nothing was denied me. In fact, things were expedited because being positive with an active infection is not a good combination!”

Leatrice Simpson, Diagnosed 1992
Unaware of her status, a gentleman vying for Simpson’s attention joked that he’d tell another courter that she has AIDS. “Shocked, I told him I really was HIV positive. He apologized and extended compassion. I held no grudge, and we eventually got married.”

Search: support, disclosure, community forums, community

Scroll down to comment on this story.


(will display; 2-50 characters)


(will NOT display)


(will display; optional)

Comment (500 characters left):

(Note: The POZ team reviews all comments before they are posted. Please do not include either ":" or "@" in your comment. The opinions expressed by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong, which is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by people providing comments.)

Comments require captcha.
Please enter this number for verification:

| Posting Rules

Show comments (5 total)

[ Go to top ]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Did you participate in an event for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.