When we’re newly diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), HIV or hepatitis C (HCV) the opportunity arises for respectful and intimate disclosure moment that can help us build trust with our sexual and injecting partners. However, even in the best of times, it can be an uncertain and awkward conversation to have and difficult to negotiate the right language to use or how much detail to disclose.
Informing your past and present partners that they may have been placed at risk of an STI is one of the most empowering and respectful things you can do. Many of our partners, lovers and fuckbuddies are ultimately grateful to have been told, so that they in turn can take care of their own health and inform their own partners or even be there as a support for you.
For people living with HIV (PLHIV) to be informed allows us to take control of and make decisions about our health in all situations. Positive Life has heard the message from our people and our community that this conversation process, we call ‘partner notification’ can be difficult at times: you may be unsure of how to go about it, what to say, or where you can find out more information or support. There is a demonstrated need to expand on the existing traditional options, which are mainly clinical in focus and can miss opportunities for newly diagnosed PLHIV to build their confidence and skills, as well as for peers to work together with dignity and respect.
Positive Life NSW, along with other service partners, such as the NSW Sexual Health Infolink (SHIL), is creating a peer-led partner notification pathway so we can inform our partners of a potential HIV, STI, or HCV risk through many platforms, including social media and dating apps. This way, even if you didn’t ask for a sexual or injecting partner’s phone number or name, you could still contact them where you first met (i.e. Tinder, Grindr, etc). The peer-led partner notification mobile app and website will be accessible, completely confidential and secure, and will offer important information and referrals about where people can get tested.
Telling partners about an STI diagnosis can come with many challenges. Sometimes it can put some people’s safety at risk. Positive Life peers know that disclosure isn’t always comfortable in all circumstances for everyone, so we’re going to ensure there’s information tailored for ‘high-risk’ situations like physical, social or sexual violence, where your safety is the top priority.
With the support of experienced peers, the resources and process is respectful, liberating and dignified. When we have choices about who to tell, how to tell, and when to tell, we’re in the driver’s seat. At the same time, we need time to absorb the news after the diagnosis before telling partners and lovers.
Whenever we exercise our right to health by taking control and making our own informed decisions, we build confidence and skills around disclosure and demonstrate respect for fuck buddies, mates and lovers.
We’re here to support you when you’re ready to disclose to your partners. Contact Positive Life on (02) 9206 2177, 1800 245 677 (freecall) or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns about HIV diagnosis and disclosure.