out you have HIV when you are already in a relationship is likely to involve a
different set of issues.
to terms with your own diagnosis can take time. In additions to concerns you
may have about your own health and future, you may be worried that you could
have passed on HIV to your partner, and what your diagnosis will mean for your
you have a monogamous relationship (which means that you and your partner had
agreed to be faithful to each other, or ’exclusive’) and were infected with HIV
by sexual activity outside of the relationship, an additional concern may be the
need to talk to your partner about this.
can be a very difficult situation for both you and your partner to deal with
and it is likely to raise a lot of strong emotions in both of you.
it makes good sense to think about how and when you tell your partner and
anticipate his or her best or worst reaction. Counsellors and health advisers
at your HIV
clinic will be
able to talk this over with you.
likely to take some time for you and your partner to work through the issues
that arise from your HIV diagnosis.
people have found that their partner is very supportive, understanding and
loving. But this isn’t always the case, and other reactions can include shock,
anger, and blame. Some relationships are strong enough to survive this, but
some others are not.
some people, it is particularly difficult to tell their partner that they have
HIV. You may rely on your partner for money or, if you live together, you may
have concerns about your partner wanting you to leave your home, or you may be
fearful of violence.
be afraid to ask for help and support with these issues. Your HIV clinic will
be able to help, and there might also be a local HIV organisation who can offer
you advice and help. If you’re not sure what is available in your area, you
could contact the Terrence Higgins Trust helpline, THT Direct, on 0808 802 1221 for information
you have children, you may be concerned about the possibility that they have
HIV. Or you may be worried that your relationship with your children will be
damaged. And you’ll face another set of decisions about what, when and how to
tell them. A good source of support and information is Body and Soul, which specialises in
providing services to families, teenagers and children affected by HIV.
difficult as it may be to tell your partner, there are often many reasons why
this makes good sense. It will help build feelings of trust and shared
responsibility. Opening up the discussion about looking after each others’
health – not just avoiding HIV transmission but protecting both partners from
other sexually transmitted infections – can very constructive. And if there is
any risk that your partner may have become HIV positive, it is important that
they are tested and get the treatment and care they need.
are effective ways to ensure HIV isn’t passed on to a negative partner (see Sex). In England and Wales, if you take measures to avoid HIV
transmission, such as using condoms each time you have sex, you are protected
by the law. But it’s important to know that if you don’t tell your partner, and you have unprotected sex with him or
her and they become infected with
HIV, you could be prosecuted.