When is the best time to disclose your status?  

Windhoek – In this day and age, getting out and meeting new people in the romance context is hard enough for some. So one can imagine how difficult it is the first time you set out to find new love after being diagnosed with HIV.  While many newly diagnosed people feel they have to give up any hope of dating and relationships after diagnosis, the truth is finding that special someone can and does happen. With the right information and guidance, people living with HIV can have healthy loving relationships just like anyone else.  One of the biggest concerns of HIV-infected people is confidentiality. For many, the worst thing that can happen is having others find out about their HIV infection. That may be the biggest reason HIV disclosure is so difficult. But when dating and beginning new relationships, disclosing your HIV status is a wise thing to do.  The prospect of telling someone you just met that you have HIV is a very daunting task. People living with HIV find it hard to disclose their status for a number of reasons such as their HIV diagnosis will no longer be a secret; they fear the rejection that may come with disclosing their HIV status to a prospective partner, they fear the judgments and stereotypes that come along with an HIV diagnosis and they are afraid they will lose their only shot at a relationship.  Well, the fears are natural as stigmatisation may and does occur a lot, but with education to the nation that discourages stigma and discrimination we can go a long way in being in loving relationships where one or both partners are HIV positive.  An important question that many may ask is when is the right time for one to disclose his/her HIV positive status to a perspective partner? There is probably no perfect time for the disclosure but there are choices to be made regarding when to tell – the earlier the better.  Disclosure must occur prior to any sexual contact. However, if the relationship hasn’t gotten to that point one could consider which time best suits them. Are you the type who would kiss and tell or are you the type who would tell and kiss?  Kiss and Tell – those who choose to “kiss and tell” will go on a few dates before disclosing their HIV status. This does have its advantages. For one it allows you to wait and see if the relationship is going to get serious before disclosing. If the relationship stalls, your status was not disclosed needlessly. In other words, people who kiss and tell feel this option is best because it limits the number of people who become aware of their HIV diagnosis.  Tell and Kiss – there are some people who choose to “tell and kiss,” meaning that HIV disclosure occurs very early in the relationship, in some cases on the first date. One reason for early disclosure is there is less emotional attachment at that point. It is a fact of life that some people will not be ready to date an HIV-infected person. Some feel that it is better to be rejected early as opposed to later when an emotional connection has occurred.  In addition, early disclosure implies honesty. Waiting to disclose until you have had a few dates first may be viewed as dishonest by some. Finally, people who disclose early find comfort in knowing that if the relationship does succeed and move forward, their partner accepts them for who they without conditions.

October 2010
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