How does my HIV affect Family & Friends?

Attending my second (co-hosting by default) HIV support group this week opened my eyes to the fact that family members are still unable to accept and feel comfortable with an HIV-positive person disclosing their status to them.

By Cindy Pivacic.


Unfortunately, this sad state of affairs generally has a negative and dismissive effect on the person disclosing and can cause distress, a feeling of discrimination and rejection.

I encourage people to disclose to at least ONE understanding person as the mantra that “Silence makes you sick” is real. Choose wisely when deciding to whom you will first disclose your HIV status. Know that that person will not reject you when you disclose to them. If spurned, it will no longer be as traumatic.

Once you have decided to disclose, keep the following in mind:

  1. Choose the right time and place: Find a comfortable and private setting for an open and uninterrupted conversation. Ensure everyone is in a calm and receptive state of mind. You may consider inviting a third party to mediate the process.
  2. Educate yourself: Be well-informed about HIV and AIDS, its transmission, and treatments available. Knowledge will help dispel misconceptions and enable you to answer any questions your family and friends may have.
  3. Emphasise the medical advancements: Share the positive aspects of your situation, such as the effectiveness of treatment in managing HIV, and highlight that you can lead a healthy and fulfilling life.
  4. Express your emotions: Open up about your feelings, fears, and hopes. Showing vulnerability can help your family and friends understand the impact of their support on your well-being.
  5. Provide reliable resources: Offer trustworthy sources of information, such as brochures, websites, or support groups, that they can turn to for more knowledge and guidance. Be mindful that many support groups are open to family and friends joining.
  6. Be prepared for different reactions: People may need time to process the news. Some may react with shock, fear, or ignorance. Respond patiently and empathetically when addressing their concerns while reinforcing your need for their support.
  7. Encourage open dialogue: Let your family and friends know that you are open to discussing any questions or concerns they may have. Create an environment where they feel comfortable seeking clarification or expressing their feelings.

 Remember, each person’s reaction may differ, but by approaching the conversation with empathy, knowledge, and a request for open communication, you increase the likelihood of receiving support and reducing rejection.

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get cover of up to 3 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million if you are living with HIV.

SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more. 

I did!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.

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