Should I share my positive test result with others?
Whether you share, or disclose, your status to others is your decision.
If you test positive for HIV, your sex or drug-using partners may also be infected. It’s important that they know they have been exposed so that they can be tested too. You can tell them yourself—but if you’re nervous about disclosing your test result, or you have been threatened or injured by your partner, you can ask your doctor or the local health department to tell them that they might have been exposed to HIV. Health departments do not reveal your name to your partners. They will only tell your partners that they have been exposed to HIV and should get tested. Most states have laws that require you to tell your sexual partners if you are HIV-positive before you have sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) or share drugs. You can be charged with a crime in some states if you don’t tell—even if your partner doesn’t become infected.
Family and friends
In most cases, your family and friends will not know your test results or HIV status unless you tell them yourself. While telling your family that you have HIV may seem hard, you should know that disclosure actually has many benefits—studies have shown that people who disclose their HIV status respond better to treatment than those who don’t.
If you are under 18, however, some states allow your health care provider to tell your parent(s) that you received services for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, if they think doing so is in your best interest. For more information, see the Guttmacher Institute’s State Policies in Brief: Minors’ Access to STI Services.
In most cases, your employer will not know your HIV status unless you tell. But your employer does have a right to ask if you have any health conditions that would affect your ability to do your job or pose a serious risk to others. (An example might be a health care professional, like a surgeon, who does procedures where there is a risk of blood or other body fluids being exchanged.)
If you have health insurance through your employer, the insurance company cannot legally tell your employer that you have HIV. But it is possible that your employer could find out if the insurance company provides detailed information to your employer about the benefits it pays or the costs of insurance.
All people with HIV are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your HIV status as long as you can do your job. For more information, see AIDS.gov’s Civil Rights