When I was diagnosed HIV positive, I didn’t know who to tell or how to tell. After disclosing to my immediate family and friends it felt like weight had been lifted off of me and I realized that disclosing was a freeing experience for me. Some who were public with their status told me that they didn’t go public with their status until they were comfortable with their disease. For me going public helped make me comfortable with my disease.
My first time speaking in public was to a group of fifty to one hundred high school students who were involved in an HIV Awareness Day program. I cried half way through telling my story. But I made it through and the tears did not stop me from continuing to go out and telling my story even though I continued to cry through the next few times I publicly spoke. But at the end when it was time for the question and answer sessions, I knew it was worth it every time for my audience to understand that anyone could potentially become HIV positive if they did not take appropriate actions to protect themselves.
Now, I can not say that going public with your status is a lifestyle that everyone should or can choose. I have an awesome support system in place which is extremely important because I have experienced a multitude of reactions from ignorance, confusion, anger, to thankful, caring and kind. You never know what you are going to get, and whatever happens when I go out I know that I have people in my life that I can call if I need to and they will be there for me when it’s all said and done. Prayer is also important for me. I stand firm in my faith and I know who I am and whose I am and that God has kept me and will continue to keep me through it all.
If you think you may want to go public with your status, think long and hard about the decision. Examine your support system and make sure you can rely on them when you need them and remember once you put it out there, you can’t take it back!
Going public has been a good experience overall for me and quite a few others and has had wonderful results. But for others, I know it has shattered their lives and for some drove them into seclusion. Don’t let anyone pressure you into it if it’s not what you want or if you don’t feel ready. If you think it’s something you can do then go for it. My mother always told me “Nothing beats a failure but a try!”