for Veterans and the Public
Once you have HIV, you can give the virus to others by having unprotected sex or by sharing needles (or, if you are pregnant and not on HIV medications, you can pass HIV to the baby during pregnancy, delivery or by breast-feeding). This is true even if you are feeling perfectly fine. Using condoms and clean needles can prevent infecting other people. It can also protect you from getting other sexually transmitted diseases. Taking HIV medications that suppress HIV also greatly reduces the likelihood of transmitting HIV infection to another person.
Sometimes it can be difficult to explain that you have HIV to people you have had sex with or shared needles with in the past. However, it is important that they know so that they can decide whether to get tested. If you need help telling people that you may have exposed them to HIV, many city or county health departments will tell them for you, without using your name. Ask your provider about this service.
Before telling your partner that you have HIV, take some time alone to think about how you want to bring up the subject.
- Decide when and where would be the best time and place to have a conversation. Choose a time when you expect that you will both be comfortable, rested, and as relaxed as possible.
- Think about how your partner may react to stressful situations. If there is a history of violence in your relationship, consider your safety first and plan the situation with a case manager or counselor.