Offer to answer questions
Say something like “Thanks for listening. Do you have any questions you want to ask?” Keep in mind that you don’t have to answer any questions you aren’t comfortable with or that you don’t think are relevant. It’s as simple as saying “I’m not ready to talk about that” or “I am not sure how to answer.”
You may want to provide some information to the person you disclose to. This might be a pamphlet or a link to a website they might benefit from. You’ll get an idea of how educated they are by how they respond to your news.
Don’t assume you have to defend yourself
Again, you’re in control of the message here. You don’t have to apologize or make excuses for your HIV status. Keep the conversation focused on moving forward in your relationship. Respond to judgmental reactions with “I’m all about the present and the future, not the past. I would like to count on you to be there for me!” End of story.
Be ready to offer support — within limits
Most likely, some of the people you disclose to are going to say “I just feel terrible” or even use terms like “devastated.” That can be your cue to remind them that you’re taking responsibility for managing your HIV. You can be supportive without being pulled into someone else’s out-of-control emotions. Be gentle but firm. They’re feeling helpless. You’re not.
And keep your expectations realistic
Sure, it’s disappointing if someone you feel close to isn’t able to have this conversation, is judgmental, or is otherwise unsupportive. But here’s where you aren’t calling all the shots. You don’t have control over how someone else chooses to think, feel, or behave. And for those who won’t deal, it’s their limitation, not yours.
Disclosure is a step toward sharing more of your life with people you care about. Support is power.