It is your choice who you tell about your HIV status. But if you have been having unprotected sex with your partner, it is a good idea to tell them so that they can get tested for HIV too.
Sharing your status with a partner
HIV can be passed on during sex, so telling someone who is a current or previous sexual partner can be difficult and emotional.
Many people worry that sharing their HIV status will lead to rejection or damage to their relationship.
While you can’t control how others react, remember that negative reactions are normally based on poor knowledge of HIV.
- The basics
- In detail
Should I tell my partner I have HIV?
When should I tell them?
It's up to you when you share your status, but some people with HIV find that sharing their status early in a relationship can be helpful. This way you can avoid wasting your time and energy on a person who might not be right for you. If you only found out you have HIV during your relationship, the sooner you tell your partner, the sooner they can test for HIV too.
What should I tell them?
If you can help your partner to understand the facts about HIV, and reassure them, they are less likely to react negatively. Give your partner the correct information on how HIV is passed on and how it can be prevented. You might want to consider telling them that:
you can live a long and healthy life on treatment, just like anyone else
Should I advise them to get tested for HIV?
Yes. If you’ve had unprotected sex with your partner, it’s important for them to get tested. If you had unprotected sex recently, they need to wait a few weeks before testing so that the result is accurate. A healthcare professional will help them work out when they should test for HIV based on when you last had unprotected sex.
Let's talk about sharing your status with a partner!
What if they reject me?
Some people find that telling their partner they have HIV leads to great support and help.
Other people may worry that sharing their HIV status will lead to rejection. This is something that a healthcare worker or a peer can often support you with.
Remember that negative reactions are normally based on poor knowledge of HIV. Give your partner the correct information on how HIV is passed on and how it can be prevented. This will normally reassure them and help you to manage their reactions. Remember that people may take time to process the information. Their first reaction may not be how they end up feeling about it later. Give them time and space to take in the news.
If they do break up the relationship, try not to take it personally. Having HIV is nothing to be ashamed of, and hopefully this is something that the other person will realise too.
What if they blame me for getting HIV?
It is possible that your partner will ask you how you got HIV. They may even blame you for it. But having HIV is not something to be ashamed of, and it isn’t your fault. There’s also the possibility that your partner passed HIV on to you. This is why it’s important that they test for HIV too.
What if they are abusive or violent about my status?
It is your right not to experience abuse or violence. If your partner has been abusive or violent in the past, or you are worried that they might be when you share your status, ask your healthcare provider for support. For example, they might be able to be with you when you tell your partner. Or, they could tell them on your behalf.
If you experience abuse or violence after sharing your status, seek emergency help.
My partner has told me they have HIV. What should I do?
It can be very difficult to learn that your partner has HIV. And it will have been very difficult for your partner to tell you. But a relationship doesn’t need to break down because of HIV. Try these things:
Be supportive and show that you care.
Take time to understand the news.
Learn about HIV by reading other pages on this website.
Test for HIV and then test regularly going forward.