Be open about HIV – or not

In many ways it will be easier for you, and better for your health, if you can be open about your HIV status. But sometimes this is difficult or impossible.

Taking your pills in secret?

When none of your friends, family members or acquaintances knows that you are HIV-positive, it may be difficult to always take your medication on time. If your housemates don’t know, for instance, you must take your pills every day in secret. Where do you keep your medication? And what if you go on holiday to your homeland? Sometimes people decide to temporarily stop taking their HIV medication, for fear of being found out by their family. But this is very bad for your health; the virus can become more harmful to your body. Does this sound familiar? Discuss this with your HIV specialist nurse.

Pablo: ‘HIV stigma is tough’
picture pablo

Pablo is open about having HIV, even though not everyone reacts positively. Watch the video in which he tells about his experiences in the gay community.

James: ‘nobody knows about HIV’

picture james back
James is a Dutch citizen whose family originates from Ghana. He lives in Amsterdam. As for most African people his family and family ties are very important to him. Since June 2007 James knows that he is HIV-positive. For fear of being expelled from his family James has not told any of his acquaintances or family members that he carries this virus. He keeps this secret to himself. Despite the fact that he does not want to be recognised in the video James does feel that it is very important to tell his story.


Sometimes it is difficult or impossible for someone with HIV to be open about it. You may feel ashamed about your HIV status or you may fear being excluded. In some communities HIV is a sensitive issue as it is associated with sex and leading a wild life. HIV is also often associated with homosexuality, which in some cultures is an even more sensitive issue. You can read more about support for people with HIV.