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HIV Positive: When Should Women Tell Their Family?

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Dr. Lewis shares advice on disclosing an HIV diagnosis to love ones.

Dr. Lewis:
The issue of disclosure is a complicated one. It is one where women who are newly diagnosed with HIV oftentimes look for concrete answers in terms of who to tell and when. Oftentimes women, sometimes unlike men, have a urge to disclose to everybody and anybody as a way of maintaining and receiving support from individuals.

What we often tell women is to be very thoughtful, to work with a behavioral health counselor or a friend or a parent and help develop a plan in terms of disclosure rather than disclosing to everybody and anybody who will listen.

HIV, unlike some of the other diseases, has stigma attached to it and people do discriminate based on fear of HIV or fear that individuals won’t be able to do their job, and so we often times suggest to women to hold off, develop a plan, be very thoughtful on who you tell and when you tell, and also give yourself some time to digest.

Give yourself some time to make sure that you know how you are feeling about it before you disclose. So make sure that you are working with somebody that you trust to develop that plan.

About Dr. Jennifer Lewis, Ph.D.:
Jennifer Lewis the Director of Prevention and Wellness at the Southwest Center for HIV/ AIDS. She oversees HIV prevention for women, men and youth, and wellness which includes medical nutrition, behavioral health and complementary and alternative medicine. She is also the owner of Mosaic Psychotherapy, LLC, a psychotherapy practice that provides consulting and counseling services to individuals and families.

Visit Dr. Jennifer Lewis at the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS

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