Get strategies to help you tell family, friends, children and other people about your HIV.

Telling people about your HIV isn’t easy, especially just after you have been diagnosed. Find information and strategies to help you tell family, friends, children and other people about your HIV, and learn about the legal ins and outs of telling sexual partners.

Do I have to tell my sexual partners?

Under certain circumstances, you are obliged under law to disclose your HIV status to former, current and future sexual partners. That’s because HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

Read a summary of the legal issues or CATIE’s detailed guide to legal issues.

Who else should I tell?

Who you choose to tell about your HIV outside of sexual partners, and when to tell them, is a highly personal decision. To help you decide who to tell, ask yourself:

  • Who will listen and not judge me?
  • Who will provide me with reliable support?
  • Who can I trust?

You may want to only tell a small group of close family and friends, or you might decide to tell your coworkers and other people in your life. Or you might only want to confide in one person.

Your doctor or another health professional or counsellor can help you tell people. They can also provide you with information about HIV that you can give to the people you tell. You can also point them to the various resources and pages in this website.

How to tell children

You may have your own children. Or you may have nieces, nephews or other children in your life. Telling children about your HIV is especially difficult. Here are some things to consider:

  • Ask for help from a friend, family member, doctor or counsellor who knows you and the child.
  • Learn the basic facts around HIV so you can explain them clearly.
  • Choose a time when you think the child is ready for the information and most likely to be able to process it.

Learn more about how to talk to children of different ages about your HIV.

Tips for telling people

Here are some practical strategies for telling people about your HIV.

  • Learn the facts about HIV so you can explain them clearly.
  • Ask your doctor, a counsellor or a Fraser Health STOP nurse for help.
  • Find another person with HIV through a support group who can advise you on the best approach.
  • Gather some leaflets and websites with information for the people you tell.
  • Take your time deciding on the best person or people to tell.
  • Consider who you can trust, who is a good listener, who can provide practical support, who will not judge you, who will respect your privacy and other factors.
  • Consider the right time and place to tell someone.

Learn more about telling people about your HIV.