How to react when someone tells me they have HIV?
Stigma and discrimination have made conversations around HIV fearful and taboo, but it shouldn’t be! Educating ourselves to talk about HIV is one of the strongest tools we have as a society to respond to this health situation.
At AID FOR AIDS, we want to share with you 3 things you should do, and 3 things you shouldn’t do, when someone tells you they have HIV.
- Thank them for telling you and let them know that they can trust you. It was not easy for this person to say this! Have this in mind.
- Ask them how you can help. This person is sharing this with you because he needs support and they feel comfortable with you.
- Let them know that nothing changes. Give this person a peace of mind assuring them that you love, protect and care for them no matter what. Normalize this situation and make them feel safe and comfortable with you.
- Don’t make them feel guilty and/or ashamed. This person is telling you because they trust you.
- Don’t try to understand how they got it. Unless you need to know any risk of transmission, there’s no need to disrespect the other person’s privacy and ask painful questions.
- Don’t ask this to be kept a secret. While it’s up to the other person how they want to handle the situation, don’t be the one to ask them to keep it a secret. We are all responsible for reducing stigma and discrimination. Silence is violence.
We hope these tips can help you if you ever find yourself in this situation, or if you have already been and want to improve your response. It is our responsibility to have emotionally caring conversations and show our support for people with HIV.