Disclosing to Family
I never expected being openly HIV positive would be something that came easy in life. I find myself feeling like I am coming out again every time I disclose to someone new. I always figured I had to come out as HIV positive to new potential partners, but during the first few months after my diagnosis, I realized that I had to tell my family as well. Who would have thought that, in my opinion, disclosing my status to my family would be harder than potential new dates?
I felt my family had the right to know
I am not saying that your family needs to know your status because your status is something very personal. In my case, I felt that my family had a right to know. The reason behind me thinking this is I knew that I wanted to have a voice within my community.
I knew I was going to be sharing my story along with my struggles and triumphs when it came to my HIV diagnosis. I knew I would utilize my platform so my community has a story and person to relate to. The second that I knew my face and name was going to be out in the community as openly positive, I made a decision to tell my family. I did not for once hesitate because I knew that I would rather tell them myself before they heard it from someone else.
How I disclosed my HIV status to my mother
One day I decided to take my mother to the beach, and that is where I disclosed to her before anyone else. I knew she had an idea of what HIV was, but it never made a big impact in her life for her to really understand it.
I did not want to scare her or worry her in any way. I waited until I was on medication, undetectable and healthy before I told her. My reasoning behind this was that I wanted to make sure for her that when I told her, “Mom, I am going to be okay,” that I really meant it. I expressed to her that I wanted to tell the rest of the family which also included my two younger sisters.
I wasn't afraid to share my story
At first, my mother did not understand why it was anyone’s business about my status. I had to really sit her down and explain to her that I am in the field of HIV prevention and I am not afraid to share my story. I told her that I was soon going to be on an all HIV-positive magazine and that my story and image will surely be shared over social media.
This was my personal disclosure experience
I am not saying that you need to be as open about your HIV status as I am. In my opinion, the more open you are about it, the less power it gives people over you. Disclosing your status can be scary because you never know how someone is going to react.
I realized I was very fortunate when my family did not see me any different after I disclosed to them. They are one of the many important reasons why I continue to hold my head up high and push forward the fight against HIV stigma.
How often does someone offer you unsolicited advice on your health?