The Pros and Cons of Disclosure

Written by | HIV

young men having a conversation

Coming out with your HIV status can be daunting. Consider the potential benefits and drawbacks before you make your decision.

As a counselor, i find that disclosure of HIV status is the issue my clients struggle with most. It brings up extreme fear of being rejected by employers, potential partners, friends or family. This is with good reason: Many have faced rejection. But that doesn’t mean you should expect the worst. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of disclosing your HIV-positive status.

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The key factor to consider when thinking about disclosure is safety. If disclosure potentially threatens your housing, employment, finances or any aspect of your life, think long and hard before disclosing. If relative safety is assured, then there are many pros to disclosure:

  • Feeling powerful in yourself
  • Owning your status
  • Letting go of the fear
  • Helping to give voice to those who may not have one
  • Inspiring others
  • Learning a romantic interest may not be concerned by your status or that he or she is livingwith HIV as well
  • Giving your family and friends a chance to support you
  • Feeling loved for who you are
  • Being authentic in your relationships


There are many potential cons, to be sure. It’s up to each individual to figure out for yourself how likely they really are to occur:

  • Rejection
  • Anger
  • Violence
  • Disappointment
  • Pity
  • Being treated differently
  • Having someone violate your trust
  • Having someone end a relationship
  • Feeling you’ll be perceived as a burden

It may take you some time to decide when, where and to whom to disclose your status. Don’t feel pressured into it, but know that it can be both powerful and freeing as long as it feels right and does not endanger you.

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Last modified: May 16, 2019