STUDY: HIV+ People Don’t Know What To Tell Sex Partners Or When It Should Happen

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I’ve always wondered how we can decrease exposure to the HIV virus in our community. Well, not just people with this specific virus but for all people with incurable diseases. After reading an article on Huffington Post it turns out as much of a shame it is to have one of these STD’s, the people carrying them don’t know when it’s appropriate to share the information with potential partners.

What exactly happens when you don’t reveal your status?

A recent survey of over 2,000 people with HIV in the U.S. conducted by the Sero Project, reveals these consequences. Nearly a quarter of respondents knew at least one person who was afraid to take an HIV test for fear of prosecution if they tested positive. Nearly half believe that such fears are reasonable.

The survey paints a dismal picture of a disabling legal environment for people with HIV in the U.S. Over 60 percent of people with HIV don’t know whether or not their state has an HIV-specific disclosure statute; nearly half don’t know what behaviors put them in legal jeopardy, and 38 percent personally fear being falsely accused of not disclosing their HIV status. If facing charges, nearly 80 percent are uncertain they would get a fair hearing in court.
These criminal statutes were intended to reduce HIV transmission by making people afraid to not disclose their status. Our findings suggest the opposite effect: many people at risk may prefer to not get tested for HIV, rather than risk being accused of non-disclosure if they tested positive.

These statutes heighten the already-pervasive stigma around HIV, while doing nothing to facilitate disclosure. In fact, when we asked 200 people with HIV what motivates them to disclose their HIV status to a sex partner, most cited basic moral or ethical reasons like honesty or a desire to protect their partner. Less than 1 percent cited the law as a primary motivation for disclosure.

In order to help people with HIV protect themselves legally, the SERO Project distributes an HIV Disclosure Acknowledgement Statement for partners to sign. The language reads, in part: “I, ____, acknowledge that my partner, ____, has been diagnosed positive for HIV and that he or she has informed me of their HIV status… I waive any and all claims against my partner for failing to tell me about their HIV status.”

Humiliating, obviously. But far too often, having documented proof that disclosure was made is the only way people with HIV can avoid facing charges.

Read More: Think Having HIV Is Not a Crime? Think Again



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