HIV-specific housing and disclosure
A few areas in British Columbia have housing designated for people living with HIV. You can find out if this is available in your area by talking to an HIV or social services organization.
There are different kinds of HIV-specific housing—some provide health care, some offer support services, and others require fully independent living. This type of housing offers benefits for people living with HIV and is usually more affordable than other rental housing in British Columbia.
At the same time, HIV-specific housing brings a unique set of challenges related to disclosure.
Living in this kind of housing means that a person’s HIV status likely cannot be kept a secret. One of the most important concerns is involuntary disclosure—this is when a person’s HIV status is revealed without their consent. Sometimes this happens because someone (neighbour, staff) tells. Sometimes this happens because the information is learned some other way such as from a website.
There is even a chance of involuntary disclosure in the process of applying for HIV-specific housing. By filling out an application or going in and out of an HIV-designated building, people may reveal their HIV status. If you’re not comfortable with that, and you have other options, it might be best not to apply.
If you intend to live in HIV-specific housing, take some time to prepare for HIV disclosure. This means planning how you will tell people that you have HIV, as well as how you will respond if involuntary disclosure occurs.
You may also want to talk with people about why you live in HIV-specific housing, especially if you plan to invite guests over. What kind of health, support, social, or financial benefits will you be comfortable mentioning? For instance, you might talk about the community of support you have in the building, or you might discuss the affordability of the HIV-designated suite you live in.
Further Reading and Resources