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#AskTyler: I'm Too Afraid to Tell My Friends That I'm HIV-Positive

#AskTyler: I'm Too Afraid to Tell My Friends That I'm HIV-Positive


If you lose a friend over your HIV status, you'll have more room in your life for better friends.

Alex from Oklahoma writes, “I have been HIV positive for a year but I still haven’t told anyone because I am just too afraid. How should I do this?”

Frankly, I wish I was asked this question more often because I think that it is the single most important element to living well with HIV. You cannot do anything in this life completely alone. It takes the love, support and even some unwanted but much needed advice to get through anything that is even remotely difficult. Yet, that is exactly what people with HIV try to do so often. They try and go at it alone. And in my opinion, this is one of the biggest reasons why the majority of people with HIV are failing to manage their virus correctly.

Before you can open up to your friends and family about your HIV status, you have to do one simple thing first. You have to let yourself off the hook. You are afraid to tell others because, somewhere inside, you are silently judging yourself. You are human and you make mistakes. Forgive yourself and say it out loud, “My name is Alex and I am HIV-positive.” It might be cheesy, but it’s the only way to diffuse the fears you have. Say it over and over until it loses all of its impact. Those three letters can be pretty scary to say at first, but with practice they becomes no big thing.

Don’t worry about how everyone will react. Just begin by telling one of your friends whom you confide in the most. He or she will not think differently of you because you aren’t any different. Life just happened and that’s exactly what your friends are there for: to go through life with you and help with the scrapes and bruises.

You have two options. You can make the experience of living with HIV incredibly difficult or relatively easy. The difficult option involves living with a secret and managing something with no support. The easy option involves the people who you love supporting you as the person you are, flaws and all. After all, I am sure many of your friends have revealed the not-so-pretty things that make them who they are. This is no different, even though you may think it is.

The thing about HIV stigma is that it is just like the boogeyman. It only exists if you believe in it. And if you never pull down the covers and open your eyes, your imagination can run wild with the horrors of fear and shame. It is time to reject the nightmare and create the reality you deserve. One where your friends and family give you unconditional support, no matter what your HIV status may be.

And if you do lose a friend or two, they were pretty shitty to begin with. #girlbye

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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