HIV How do I disclose my status to my parents?

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The stigma surrounding HIV has made it quite a difficult task.

Stigma has made disclosure harder. play Stigma has made disclosure harder. (Courtesy)

Deciding to disclose your positive HIV status whether you just found out or you have been living with it for a while is a difficult decision. Yes, you can keep it to yourself but there comes a time when disclosing this information is vital.

The stigma around HIV makes it look like a shameful thing when really, it’s not. A lot has been done to increase awareness and change attitude towards persons living with HIV, still, it’s a shaking experience to confess this to someone else, especially your parents.

The thought of dissappointment and becoming a burden are a natural reaction to such news but understanding that life doesn't change as much because of HIV is the first step to closure.

Medical administrator, Esther Wangui says that if you have just found out about it, then it is important to first seek counsel and deal with it on a personal level before having to handle other people’s reaction. It takes time to adjust to being HIV positive. With that in mind, it's a good idea to not rush into disclosing your status without first giving it some thought.

So how do you approach the subject?

If you have a strong relationship with your family then they maybe the support system to that will help you get through the tough days. If it has been strained then telling them will affect it a bit more, for just a little while.

However, the following could make it way easier.

First of all, consider the five "W's" when thinking about disclosure: who, what, when, where and why. Who do you need to tell? What do you want to tell them about your HIV infection, and what are you expecting from the person you are disclosing your HIV status to? When should you tell them? Where is the best place to have this conversation? Why are you telling them?

play Avoid isolating yourself. (Courtesy)

 

Telling people indiscriminately may affect your life in ways you haven't considered.

Having feelings of uncertainty about disclosure is a very common reaction.

You have a virus. You don't have anything to apologize for simply because you are HIV positive.

Keep it simple. You don't have to tell the story of your life.

Avoid isolating yourself. If you are unable to tell close friends, family members or other loved ones about your HIV status, allow yourself to draw upon the support and experience of others in the HIV community. Consider joining a support group or an online forum, such as the POZ Forums.

There's no perfect roadmap for how to disclose. Trust your instinct, not your fears.

Even if the response you receive in a specific situation, doesn't go the way you'd hoped, you're going to survive it and your life will go on.

Millions of others have dealt with this experience and have found their way through it. You will get through it too.

Remember: Life doesn't stop with HIV.

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