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Friday, April 5, 2013

Disclosure & You

With HIV specific laws that lead to criminalization and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS, there is a lot of pressure and fear surrounding disclosure.
There is a notion on the rise, that as soon as we create a SAFE & SUPPORTIVE environment for disclosure, is when we can truly conquer these laws and the stigma associated with them.

Here is a break down of:
How you can be comfortable disclosing
How you can be the best listener for someone who is disclosing to you!

Person Disclosing:

Check out these previous blogs for in depth tips on how to go about disclosing safely and comfortably: 

Some quick take away tips are that you should disclose on YOUR time!
This is your information. Your status. Your life. 
Always consider why you are disclosing and who you are disclosing to.
I believe it is always best to have a support system in place for you, no matter what the end reaction after disclosing is.

Person Being Disclosed To: 

You wouldn't be wasting your time if you took a glance at the blogs about the person disclosing, it could help you get the "in their shoes" perspective.
I have some specific tips for the person in this category anyway.

1. Listen - Put yourself in the other person's shoes, wait until the person disclosing is done, take time to compose your thoughts.

2. Questions - The person disclosing should give you the floor for questions, it's a natural reaction to hearing someone's story. Maybe you need something cleared up, maybe you haven't been fully educated on a certain topic. Speak up. Try to formulate your questions the best you can and take it as a learning experience. 

3. You Have Been CHOSEN - Feel honored. The person disclosing has chosen you with their personal information. There is a sense of trust and hopeful support behind this decision. You should not be the one DRAGGING the disclosure out, you are not allowed to do the CHOOSING.

4. You Still Have Free Will - You don't have to stay in contact with the person disclosing just because they have told you this information. You are allowed to stay or leave. But I would take my time with this decision, get all the information, and atleast let the person know the reasons behind your decision.

5. Future Plans - This is more for the relationship people, but it is not selfish to consider what your future plans may be and how they might change if you are with an HIV positive person. 
Some things to think about are: Consistent use of condoms, routine testing, planning pregnancies in order to reduce transmission to partner and baby...
A Sero-Discordant relationship (One partner is Positive, the other is Negative) may or may not be what is right for you in the long run, but it is always best to get all the information before a decision.

6. Take Your Time But Make Sure To COMMUNICATE - Silence can be awkward, but sometimes it is necessary after a lot of information enters a room. Absorb. Your mind might be racing (or not, I don't know) but the person's disclosing heart AND mind is racing most likely a lot faster than yours. Don't let everything stay bottled up, let the person know what is on your mind.

*7. THIS IS NOT YOUR INFORMATION TO TELL OTHERS - The person disclosing has disclosed to you. They have disclosed their status and probably even more background history that goes along with that. It is NOT your story or history to tell. Unless you are in full communication with the person disclosing, and explain why you feel it would be in your best interest to possibly talk to a trusted adult about the situation, DO NOT DISCLOSE FOR SOMEONE ELSE!

That is all!
Always remember though, SMART Youth is there for your support no matter what category you belong to!


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