Should you tell your partner that you are HIV positive?

Charlie Sheen has revealed how he was pressured into confirming he has the virus 

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 17 November 2015 19:09 GMT
Charlie Sheen has confirmed that he has HIV
Charlie Sheen has confirmed that he has HIV (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Charlie Sheen has revealed that he is HIV positive, following intense speculation about his health.

During an interview with NBC’s Today show the Anger Management actor confirmed that he was diagnosed with the disease four years ago.

He said that his confidence had been shaken after people had attempted to expose him. His comments came after charities criticised certain parts of the international media for damaging sensationalism when reporting that an "A-list actor" had the virus.

As the virus is no longer a death sentence, should those who are HIV positive tell others – particularly sexual partners – that they have the disease?

Suzi Price, marketing and communications manager, of the National AIDS Trust charity explaind that it is up to an individual with HIV to decide whether they want to share their status.

“Do they feel comfortable with that person? Do they trust their status will be kept confidential? What is important is that if someone tells you their status that you treat that person with respect?"

She went on: "One of the really good things about HIV is that treatment for it is immensely successful, meaning that if you are on treatment and it is working well then you are non-infectious and therefore can't pass it on to other people."

However she stressed that "safe sex and wearing a condom is everyone's responsibility not just the person who has been diagnosed."

It is also important to consider that a person who does not tell their sexual partner that they have HIV could be found guilty of "reckless transmission" if they pass it on.

To be prosecuted, the carrier must have had unprotected sex with a partner who did not know that they had the virus, despite themselves being aware they are HIV positive and understand how it is transmitted.

Those faced with an initial HIV diagnosis will also need to consider that stigma continues to surround the virus, and revealing a positive status could result in homelessness.

"Of course if making a disclosure like this to a partner could result in you being made homeless or a victim of domestic violence, then it may be you’ll need additional support and it’s best to access this as soon as possible," said Ammanda Major Senior Practice Consultant at relationship service Relate.

Safe sex and wearing a condom is everyone's responsibility

&#13; <p> </p>&#13;

In the instance that a person becomes infected and is not diagnosed until after they have had sex with one or more partner, a HIV clinics can help with what can be a very difficult conversation.

"Your HIV clinic will also be able to contact past sexual partners anonymously so that they can get tested too and receive support if they need it," said Ms Major.

And telling a partner can have benefits including helping them receive swift treatment to prevent infection if a condom breaks.

"It’s worth bearing in mind that not telling your partner or not using a condom can have serious consequences for both parties and so if you feel hesitant to tell, it might be very useful to get professional support at Relate or the Terence Higgins Trust at the earliest possible stage. Both organisations can help you share the information with a partner and work out ways forward, if that’s what you both want," said Ms Major.

And for those who are struggling to cope with the news that a partner or love-one is HIV positive, the National AIDs Trust charity has stressed on its website that it is important not to worry if someone you care bout has been HIV.

“In most cases, and with the right support, people living with HIV can lead a normal life, be able to work, have relationships and children. And if they are diagnosed early and on effective treatment they are also likely to have a normal lifespan,” the website explained.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in