A family member
Attention Deficit Disorder
'I have something, but it's treatable" "I have some bad news'I have a disease, but it's treatable and manageable. I'm HIV-positive. If you just say, "I'm HIV-positive" to people who aren't gay or infected, it sets off alarm bells. In their minds, they see Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, gasping for breath," says Laurence Bachmann.
Expert insight: "It's great to add, "I'm already taking medication," " says NY-based sex therapist and psychologist Joy Davidson, PhD. "You might also say, "I know this news is startling. If you have any questions just let me know." And prepare a sheet that lists helpful resources, such as websites and support groups they can turn to for more information."
Worried your family will be upset? Bring along a supportive family member'such as an aunt or cousin'who will help them be more open-minded. Be ready to say, "I'm sorry you feel that way. It hurts me terribly. I hope you will change your mind over time. If you do, I'm here," advises Davidson.
'I send a fund-raising email" "Sometimes I disclose it by sending a fund-raising email for the AIDS Walk that talks about my personal story," says Nisha, HIV-positive since 2002. "I'll send it to people I haven't disclosed to before.'
'I know you know I've been ill'" "One by one, I invited my friends for dinner. I would say, "I have something to tell you. I know you know I have been very ill. Well, this is why." Ironically, one couple I had known for five years said, "We both have AIDS too," " says Shelley Singer, who's had HIV since 1997.
A romantic prospect
'I just biked the Race Across America" "I talk about the fact that I participated in Race Across America on the first HIV-positive team," says Jim Williams, 53, who's had HIV since 2006. "One date said, "You just took the pressure off me. I'm positive too." "
Expert insight: "If someone turns you down, he's saying, "I can't give what's required in this situation." It's a statement of the person's limitations, not a rejection of you," says Davidson.
'Let's talk about status" "On the first date I say, "When do you want to talk about status?" " says Laurence. "Everyone knows what it means. The first few times you're nervous. Then it just becomes part of your routine.'
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