For individuals who have decided to tell adult members of their family, friends, partners or their workplace about their HIV status, we can offer tailored advice and support. This includes 1:1 time to talk with staff about their concerns and thoughts about the process.
We can also organise peer support to enable people to talk to others who have been through similar experiences. In addition, we discuss this process of telling people about HIV, in structured group workshops on a regular basis.
Choosing when and how to tell sexual partners about HIV can be difficult. People often have many questions or worries that they need to discuss, “When is the right time to tell them?” “Do I have to tell every partner I have?” “Will they reject
me, and if so how will I cope?” “How do I tell them?” Members at Body & Soul have found that it helps a great deal to talk to other people living with HIV about this, to gain the benefit of their experiences. We also run regular group sessions on relationships, telling partners and can also offer 1:1 support. People living with HIV should protect themselves and others and be aware of the law in the UK in relation to HIV transmission.
Body & Soul knows that HIV can affect the whole family, not just one individual. If family members know about the HIV status of someone close to them they can often find out more about the facts, offer emotional support and practical help if needed. Telling family members can also help to build trust within relationships.
However, we know that talking about HIV is complex, and can bring a variety of reactions from family members. We’re here to support you and your particular needs, help the family to cope with the effects of diagnosis and look to the future together. We can register immediate family members at Body & Soul and offer more in-depth support. We can also talk to you about talking to your children about HIV.
Sometimes friends can be like family, particularly if people don’t have family close by to support them. Friends can be uplifting and people to have fun with but it can be hard if you have to keep an important secret from a close friend. If members choose to tell their HIV status to their friends we can work through that process and sometimes register a close friend with Body & Soul, if they are the main source of support for that individual.
Almost all workplace settings do not legally require people living with HIV to disclose their status as there are no transmission risks in the workplace.*
However, it can be very helpful for your employer to know about your health needs. Employers should have policies in place to ensure equal opportunities and anti discriminatory practice. If individuals choose to disclose their status, their employers are obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure they are able to manage their health well and attend hospital appointments.
People living with HIV are protected against discrimination and should seek professional advice if they think they have been a victim of discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 is a useful guideline for employers and employees.
(which includes Disability Equality Duty). Following a change in legislation in 2010, employers are not permitted to ask potential employees to fill in a pre employment ‘health questionnaire’ before a formal job offer is made. This benefits people living with HIV and makes it easier to prove if discrimination has taken place.
For more information on rights and responsibilities of employees and employers is available on the NAT website.
*Current exceptions to this rule include healthcare professionals doing ‘invasive procedures’ such as dentists, midwives, surgeons. However, this policy is
currently being debated.