Discussing HIV status with a partner

Open and Honest Conversations

A few weeks ago I got reminded once again about why I work in the field that I do and why I continue to drive HIV prevention within my community.

In my new position at work I do not need to see clients as much anymore but during this specific day I did. One of my staff had expressed to me that a couple had come in to do an HIV test together and after they were finished they asked to speak with me.

Of course, I made sure to attend to whatever they needed because they were asking for me specifically. Once I went into the lobby I could see that they both were nervous and looked as if they had just been crying.

I quickly introduced myself and asked if they wanted us to move to a separate room where we all could talk in private.

Disclosing your status to a partner for the first time

Once moving them to another room one individual broke down and expressed that his partner just found out that he was HIV positive.

The partner did not know this private information prior to coming into the site that day nor did he really know much about HIV.

The individual looked very shocked and scared when I tried to talk with him. The man who just openly disclosed his status to me expressed that he knew that I was open about my status with the world and really wanted me to talk to his partner about what U=U (Undetectable = Untrasmittable) is.

Using my own experience to help others

My mind quickly went back to a conversation that I had several weeks earlier when I had to disclose my status to the individual I started talking to.

Having these two sitting in front of me made me remember how nervous I got when I had to disclose all over again.

I could only imagine how this individual in front of me felt for the first time. I made sure to speak to both of them and really make sure that they both were hearing and understanding where one another was coming from.

I spoke to the HIV-negative individual and asked if he knew what PrEP was and if he was interested in it. He kindly said he was not ready but would give me a call if he was in the future.

After having an hour-long conversation they both left and thanked me for speaking with them and I gave them my business card in case they ever needed to talk again.

Discussing options with mixed-status couples

A few days ago the couple came back in to speak with me. This time they both did not look as nervous as they did last time.

The HIV-negative individual once again asked me about PrEP and if I felt that it was a good option for him, especially with the new relationship he just started.

I expressed that his partner is taking his medication to protect him therefore taking PrEP to also protect himself as well is something that I would suggest. He finally said that he was willing to speak with a PrEP Navigator and would like to start the process of getting on PrEP.

I do the work that I do for many reasons and simply educating my community and making them feel more comfortable and confident in themselves is one of them.

What advice do you have for someone who is disclosing their status to their partner for the first time?

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