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Question: My Friend Won't Disclose His HIV Status to Past Partners: What's Your Opinion?
My friend recently found out he was HIV+. I'm helping him through it based on my experience with living with HIV. One area I don't know how to handle though is his lack of responsibility in telling past partners. He believes he was infected about a year ago by his ex yet he hasn't said anything. I don't agree with this but not sure how involved I should get. I would like him to do the right thing but I understand why he's fearful of saying anything, but I also don't want someone out there possibly with the virus and not know about it.
Response from Dr. Fawcett
It is estimated that more than 20% of the HIV+ people in the US don't know their status. An HIV+ person who is untreated is vastly more likely to infect another person than someone who is on meds. Unfortunately the shame and stigma of being positive are still so strong that many people, like your friend, are reluctant to inform past partners (or anyone else) of their diagnosis. I would encourage your friend to quickly work through his concerns about disclosure and then do the right thing - lives depend on it.
Those who only talk about it are usually passed up by those who are quiet & actually doing it. Life's a climb but the view is great.
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