Your HIV status is your personal information

The choice to disclose is an individual one. Deciding who, how, why and when to tell someone you are HIV positive – whether it is a long-term partner or a casual partner – is a personal and often a difficult decision.

Telling a sexual partner can be very different to telling a close friend or family member. A decision to disclose may depend on the kind of relationship you have or you want to have. It may also depend on the kind of sex you want to have.

“Will I see this person just once?”

“Do I desire a longer term relationship?”

“Should I allow a person to get to know me and all my qualities before I disclose that I am HIV positive, particularly if we don’t have sex initially?”

Many men living with HIV have faced rejection upon disclosing to potential sexual partner/s. Sometimes men say no when asked or approached for sex, a date, or a relationship. Other HIV positive men, however, particularly in longer term relationships, have received lots of support.

If you choose to disclose and he decides not to have sex with you, it’s worth remembering that his decision to say no may not always be about you personally. He may have little or no understanding of how HIV is or is not transmitted and he may simply be trying to lower his own risk of getting HIV. It is his choice to make. Timing can be important also. It can be difficult to talk about HIV when you have only just met someone, but sometimes a casual relationship may develop into a more long-term one and this could cause problems if you have not disclosed.

Before making a decision about disclosure, many men feel that they want to get to know a person better and develop a friendship, trust and confidence, where privacy will be respected.

Some men find it useful to bring up casual conversations about HIV when they first meet someone.

There are no simple answers, as with many aspects of living with HIV. Talking to other HIV positive people, a support worker, or a counsellor about your concerns may be helpful.

Currently, in Ireland, an obligation to disclose your HIV status, has not been established in a court of law.