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Disclosing your HIV status to a GP

Knowing about any health condition you are living with will help your GP provide you with the right advice and treatment. 

You do not have to disclose your HIV status in order to register with, or visit, a GP. If you do disclose, your GP practice cannot refuse to register you because of this. See Eligibility to access GP services.

You may not feel comfortable disclosing your status to your GP on your first visit, or even for a time after that. Getting to know your GP, and the practice and its staff, may help you feel more confident about disclosing your status.

You could make a special appointment with your GP to disclose your HIV status. This way, you will have more time to discuss your health and how your GP can help you to stay well.

If you have concerns about confidentiality, you may wish to ask how information about your HIV status will be recorded (for example, is it written in your file or just held in your electronic record? Is the information coded or not; is it easily visible or recorded discreetly?) and who in the practice will know (for example, only medical staff, or all surgery staff?). See GP confidentiality for more information on medical records.

You could also ask your HIV clinic to contact your GP on your behalf.

The benefits of disclosing

  • Your GP can provide better, more informed advice about how to manage your health.
  • Your GP will be aware of any HIV treatment you are taking, making it easier for them to prescribe other medications safely.
  • Your GP can help screen for any HIV-associated health conditions.
  • Your GP can effectively manage other health conditions you may have.
  • You can arrange for your GP and your HIV doctor to communicate about your health.
  • You can receive certain vaccinations free of charge.

You should not experience any difference in the way you are treated by your doctor after you disclose.

Sometimes people with HIV experience difficulties with healthcare workers once they have disclosed their status. Anxiety about this possibility may mean you’re reluctant to disclose your status. There are similar rules and codes of ethics in all healthcare services and in all parts of the NHS, so you ought to be treated with respect whether you are at the HIV clinic, other hospital service, GP or dentist.

HIV, GPs & other primary care

Published October 2012

Last reviewed October 2012

Next review October 2014

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.