My friend has HIV
Finding out that a friend or someone you know has HIV might be really hard news to hear. Lots of people don’t know how to react when they find out someone close to them is living with HIV.
What’s important to remember is that they’re the same person you’ve always known. They may need more support from you, or maybe a different kind of support. While you might not be able to meet all of their needs, you can be their friend! The best way to know what someone needs is to ask them.
Telling someone that you have HIV takes a lot of courage, and it’s great that they trusted you enough to share something so personal.
Some small things you can do that can make a big difference:
Check in on them. Call, email, text – whatever you’re most comfortable with – to let them know that you’re thinking of them. They may not want to talk about it right now, but when they’re ready they’ll know that you’re someone they can go to.
Listen. Let them talk through their feelings. Have you ever wanted someone to just hear what you’re saying and not interrupt you or try to ‘fix’ whatever’s going on? Your friend might need the same thing.
Learn about HIV. HIV can be really scary if you don’t know much about it. One way to make it a lot less scary is to learn how you do and don’t get it and how to protect yourself. Remember, you can’t get HIV from hugging, kissing, sharing food or drinks, holding hands, or most other day-to-day activities. You don’t need to treat your friend any differently than you did before you knew their HIV status…so go ahead and give your friend a hug!
Be hopeful. Treatments for HIV have gotten so much better and people are living longer, healthier lives with HIV. Even if your friend isn’t optimistic, they’ll feel better knowing that you are.
Ask. Simply asking what your friend needs is a great way to figure out how you can help them, and will make them feel like somebody is listening and cares.