Who to tell & how

Deciding to tell someone about your HIV status can be difficult and you need to feel ready to do this.

People you might want to tell include friends and family, sexual partners, healthcare workers, your employer, school or college. The situations you’re in will change over time, and so will your decisions about who you need to tell.

If you decide to tell someone, first be confident that you can deal with their reaction, and that you can trust them.


  • Do I have to tell them, and why do I think I want to?
  • What questions are they likely to ask me and how do I respond?
  • How will they and I feel afterwards and where can I get support if I need it?
  • What if they tell someone else, someone I didn’t want to know?

Select someone from your family or circle of friends who you feel is likely to be most supportive. Once you’ve told them, don’t allow yourself or them to ignore what you’ve said. Remember you might need additional support and they may have questions. Be prepared with answers to the most likely queries and arrange for some support for yourself afterwards.

Although some people will experience rejection, many people find that friends and family can be very supportive.

Positive people often confide in one or more close friends. If you are the first person they've known to be positive, they will be on a learning curve just as you are. Make it clear that knowledge of your status is something you've entrusted them with, it's confidential. They should ask your permission before they tell anyone else.

It may be helpful to talk to support services or a health care professional you trust, prior to disclosing your status, They may be able to offer you support and about disclosure, help clarify what you want to say and even prepare you for questions you may be asked.

To find the service closest to you in Scotland, use our service finder. You can search by the first part of your postcode or enter your full postcode.
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People who already know your status may be able to help when you tell other family members or friends.

Positive friends can be a great source of friendship and peer support.

Others you might want to tell with links to further advice:

  • sexual partners, because you will want to protect them or they might want to take an HIV test
  • healthcare workers, because it may affect their decisions in giving you the best care
  • your employer, to protect your rights as an employee
  • school or college, you don’t have to but it might help for one person to be aware.

Protecting yourself & others

Protection, love and care are as important for people living with HIV as for anyone else. It's important to take care of yourself and think about others even if you're feeling overwhelmed.

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