I’m an HIV positive 16-year-old guy. I want to tell my girlfriend about my status, but when I try, I freeze up. What if she dumps me or tells her friends, and then everyone in school finds out I am positive?

Disclosing your HIV status is never easy—but your effort should be admired. You’re being responsible and respectful of your girlfriend and relationship. And, yes, you need to trust her and feel safe before sharing your status. But as soon as sex enters the equation, it’s time to talk. She may be sur­prised, pissed off or speechless. Or she may put her arms around you and say that she loves you no matter what. There’s no easy script here. You have to be honest and speak from the heart. If she dumps you (and tells every­one), then she wasn’t the right person for you. I know that’s easy for me to say but, regardless of your status, you need a partner who supports you. As for gossip, the best defense is the truth, so be sure you’re well-versed in all things HIV. People need good info—so give it to them.

My son is 16 and HIV positive. He has a girlfriend, and we’ve discussed sex, but I don’t think he has told her he has HIV. Should I tell her? Her parents?

First, speak to your son directly—ask about sex and stress the importance of telling his girlfriend that he is HIV positive. He needs to learn that being sexually responsible (whether he is 16 or 116) means being straightforward (especially given the potential legal repercussions). If he can’t do this, tell him you’re considering telling his girlfriend. Also remind him that if he has indeed told her, you should all three be able to talk about HIV together. As for telling her parents, they would be nervous and might think your son doesn’t respect their daughter enough to share his status himself. Hopefully, your son and his girlfriend will tell them together. We should empower our children to do these things on their own.

Logan Levkoff, MS in Human Sexuality Education, contributes sexual advice for the likes of MTV, Oprah and Cosmopolitan. Have a question? E-mail sexpert@poz.com.