woman places finger on mouth to indicate asking for silence

5 questions you shouldn’t ask someone living with HIV

How would if you feel if someone asked you an offensive question or said something that made you feel uncomfortable?  Not nice, right?

Before you open your mouth to say a word to someone, it is important to take a moment and ask yourself what impact your question might have on them. Put yourself in their shoes and if you sense that it will make them feel bad, sad, and angry, then you should never speak those words.

This rule also applies to persons living with HIV. There are some words we say which are considered hurtful and offensive and are better off left unspoken. 

They include
How many people have you infected with HIV?

Most people living with HIV have not and have no plans to infect others. Often infecting others can happen before they get on treatment and achieve viral suppression. After they get on the treatment they are better able to protect their loved ones. Do not assume everyone living with HIV is out to spread the virus.

Are you going to die?

This implies that HIV is a death sentence and anyone who has it will eventually die. This is not true. With treatment, someone living with HIV can live a long and healthy life just like someone who does not have HIV.

Who gave you HIV?

You do not have a right to know how someone got exposed to HIV.  Asking such questions can bring out painful emotions. Maybe they were raped or were infected by someone they trusted and when they think about it, they feel sad.

Is your partner also HIV positive?

Mind your business! Do not make assumptions, just because someone has HIV, doesn’t automatically mean that their partner has it too. Nowadays, a person living with HIV can have a relationship with someone who doesn’t have HIV thanks to better treatment and safe sex options available.

Do you have sex?

Having HIV does not mean that your sex life is over. You can still have sex. Good sex. When someone adheres to their treatment and achieves an undetectable viral load, they cannot transmit HIV to another person. Also, when they practice safe sex, passing HIV to another person becomes impossible.

Today’s lesson: Be mindful of what you say to people living with HIV. It is one of the easiest ways to end HIV stigma. Let’s end the HIV stigma together.

What other questions do you feel should not be asked to persons living with HIV?

Did you learn something new?

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