Today my sister said to be that the silence around HIV in families kills. Despite the fact that my sister usually is a bit of a drama queen today I thought she was actually right.
A family member disclosing their HIV status is a scary thing – for both the person and for the family. In the last few years I’ve personally been affected by HIV more than I ever would have considered possible. Not sure why, I am from a country where 1 in 5 people are HIV+.
Some of these relatives are openly positive, others, while not in denial, not really talk about it or acknowledge it, no matter how many times it puts them in hospital. So what are you supposed to talk about? I don’t think talking about it is easy, and sometimes I do wonder what you’re supposed to say. This is yet another problem with the virus, its become an inaccessible topic.
We do need to be talking about management of the disease, what sort of support our friends and family need, but often we don’t know how to bring this up. Almost fearful of the elephant in the room. There’s available information out there for people living with HIV, but what about for the immediate family and friends?
We want to help, we want to be supportive, we want to talk, but we don’t know how or where to begin.
Even now, having lost two brothers, I always wish I had said certain things and now it’s too late. I don’t want it to be too late with other relatives. So I guess you just take a deep breath, open your mouth and just speak.