How to disclose your HIV status on dating and hookup apps

Positive Peers Dating and Hookup Apps

By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

We believe that HIV should never stand in the way of your life — and that includes looking for love or a little bit of lovin’. And dating and hookup apps are a great way to find either one!

But depending on where you live, you may be legally required to disclose your HIV status before any sexual activity (even if you’re undetectable).

Disclosing your status can be scary! You never know how someone is going to react, and let’s face it — rejection sucks! So, should you be up front about your status on your profile or in a chat? Or is it better to get to know them first? What if you wait too long and have to tell them as you're about to sleep together? Could you scare someone off by telling them too soon?

Those are all important questions! Today we’re going to share some tips that will help you become comfortable in finding the best time to disclose to a potential bae that you're living with HIV.

Positive Peers Dating and Hookup Apps

Why you might want to disclose your status up front

So, why would you want to disclose your status on a dating or hookup app?

Well, first of all: You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! Living with HIV is a tiny portion of your life: you're sexy, smart, and a damn good time — we see you. You have nothing to hide, so why not be open and honest about your status?

Disclosing early is a great way to weed out people who aren't really worth your time. Maybe they’re hanging onto outdated stereotypes or have no idea what modern HIV management looks like — but it’s not your job to teach them! You don’t have to waste your time on someone who hasn’t updated their HIV education since ninth grade health class.

Speaking out about living with HIV is also a great way to fight the stigma surrounding it. But that activism isn't for everyone, and it's okay to just be in search of a good time. There's nothing wrong with a good time, we can all agree with that!

Posting your status on your profile or disclosing it through conversation online also means less chance to be the victim of someone’s physical anger or hate. Although it’s rare, telling someone in person comes with the risk of violence. It’s a lot easier to block someone and move on when the person isn’t a physical threat.

What's important is that you stay safe, your partners stay safe, and everyone has the factual information necessary to make a decision.

Positive Peers Dating and Hookup Apps

Why you might want to wait

We're all about giving you each side of the issue. So why would it be in your best interest to wait a while before disclosing that you are living with HIV?

Well, it’s personal health information. Think about it this way, would you want just anyone to know if you had diabetes or a bad knee? If you aren't sure if you are going to hook up with them (or ever even see them in person) you don't have to rush.

As we mentioned earlier, HIV is only a small part of your life. You might prefer to get to know someone before talking about this part of your life. Waiting to disclose may keep a number of individuals from rejecting you before they even get to know you.

And no matter what you're going through in life, rejection is something everyone deals with, and it always sucks! If you just met someone and are opening up about your status you are risking rejection.

Disclosing upfront may also open you to creeps who just want to put people down because they are ignorant and mean. Bullying, whether it be in-person or online, is not cool and can take its toll over time. While it’s true that not everyone is going to reject or bully you, if you are worried or feeling vulnerable it’s okay to wait until you have gotten to know them a bit; either way, you're strong enough to handle it!


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You deserve love (and lovin’)

You are worthy and deserving of love and respect, no matter how and when you choose to disclose your status. You do not have to tolerate disrespectful or rude comments from anyone. We are all deserving of love; don't allow anyone to make you feel otherwise.

At the end of the day, how and when you disclose is completely up to you. There isn't a right or wrong way of doing it, as long as it's done before any kind of sexual activity takes place.

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Positive Peers is made possible through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Grant to The MetroHealth System. Click here for more information about the SPNS grant initiative.
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