Living with HIV: Disclosure

Living With HIVHIV affects thousands of teens and young adults. Between 2006 and 2009, 29,740 teens and young adults between the ages of 13-24 were diagnosed with HIV. In 2009, the young adults between the ages of 20-24 accounted for the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses. Even though HIV has been around in the United States for approximately 30 years and HIV/AIDS education is included in school based health curricula, there are still misconceptions and stigma associated with the disease.

In the fourth entry in our “Living with HIV” blog series, teens and young adults address the the trials and tribulations surrounding HIV disclosure. All of the material was written by teens and young adults living with HIV.

-The Young Men’s Health Initiative staff

“I wish I could just get everyone in a room and tell them, and then make them understand, like really understand. But you can’t; you can’t understand HIV if you don’t have it.”

“The only person I’ve really told is my sister. I don’t tell people because they assume things and don’t understand what I’m going through. I tell people I don’t have it because my friends are talkative. I know it would be all over the place if I told some of them.”

“I want to say to people “just because I told you I have HIV, things don’t have to change.” But people make it change. Things will change.”

“I don’t tell my friends because I don’t know what they think. Most friends in my life don’t know I have HIV, so it’s an act of balance, a dance of wanting to talk to them about it but not get emotional. Especially when they bring up HIV or any topic surrounding it, it’s hard. I want to comment or educate about HIV but maybe they’ll assume I have it if I do, I don’t want to press hard and be adamant so I pull back.”

“I got diagnosed at 18 or 19, and I was open in the beginning, open with my family. I told them, “I have HIV,” but they are in denial. They tell me I look OK so I must not have HIV, and that I’m OK. I’m like, that’s not true, that’s not OK! I can look OK and tomorrow wake up on my deathbed.”

“When I disclosed to my (now) boyfriend, we were still just friends at the time. He handled it really well. Well, I guess we had to, because he’s still here and we’re dating. So I guess that’s good.”