How to break bad news? 2

In a nutshell, there is no perfect way to do so. As different as people are, as much their ways to cope with bad news differ, like severe health issues. For many though it is a relieve to be able to talk about it and at the same time this can help to keep up other people’s spirit and see the positive side of life.   

TEDxAmRing speaker Regan Hofmann and exhibitor Adrain Chesser broke their silence and openly announced their HIV positive status. Surely influencing many people around the globe, both faced the challenges of telling their diagnose.

Regan Hofmann – with the right innovations, a healthier world is within reach.

Regan grew up in Princeton. Being female, straight and well educated she was not thought to be at high risk of HIV infection. However, that did not protect her from getting infected with the virus. Regan found out about her HIV positive status in her late 20ties and remained silent for a decade, only telling family and some close friends. The reason is obvious: the fear to be abandoned. But she did not do nothing, she started writing anonymously for a national magazine for people living with HIV/AIS called POZ, of which she later should become editor-in-chief. Realizing that the highest rising rates of new infections are now found in women, teenagers and people over 50, she broke her silence and publicly announced her HIV positive status. Since then she is presenting as health consultant the message that perception of HIV/AIDS has to change in order to prevent unnecessary spreading of this disease. The stereotype of  infected people as being gay or drug user should not be used to be less careful!

Adrain Chesser – I have something to tell you.

Also the photographer Adrain Chesser came to a point in which he had to decide if and how he would confront his beloved ones with his

HIV diagnosis. In an attempt to overcome his fear of rejection Adrain created a sort of ritual around telling it. He took his camera with him and photographed the reaction of his friends and family in the very same  moment in which he revealed to them that he was HIV positive. Later this resulted in the incredible photograph series “I have something to tell you”. The reactions were multifaceted from crying, being shocked, confused to even smiling. At TEDxAmRing on 30 May, Adrain will exhibit some of his work.

Chesser in a Huffington Post interview:

“When I thought about having to disclose my illness to my friends I would panic, which didn’t make sense, because I have an amazing group of friends who are all very loving and supportive. … I realized that these intense emotions where actually based in my childhood fear of abandonment. Growing up gay in a small town in a very religious family, the fear of being found out and cast out was always present and right under the surface. It occurred to me that if I ritualized the act of telling, that it might be possible to transform these childhood fears that were still effecting me as an adult.”

Revealing bad news will always be hard, but the two stories already show that one of the biggest fears beside being diagnosed with a life-long illness is the threat of abandonment. And this we all clearly can change! Being open minded and not stigmatizing people carrying the HIV virus, will help them to confess their HIV status and to see the future with less fear!

Seize the opportunity to meet Regan Hofmann and Adrain Chesser on 30th of May in Hofburg at the TEDxAmRing event. Hurry up with booking your ticket because seats are limited!


Header image credits: Royalty free

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About Lisa Landskron

Being a scientist in the field of molecular biology & leading the TEDxVienna Blogger team, Lisa loves to do biochemical as well as digital experiments to create and spread ideas.

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2 thoughts on “How to break bad news?

  • Marie Motil

    I’ve posted on FB to hopefully receive 2 free tickets to TEDxAmRing and am now concerned that May 16th (the date the winners are drawn) might be too late to secure tickets. Is there really a limit and how shall I go about being absolutely positive that I (and 2 friends) get tickets?
    I’m very much looking forward to May 30th as I am a big fan of TEDtalks and even offer a English course in Salzburg for advanced speakers of English. Thanks in advance for the info.

  • Lisa Landskron Post author

    Hi Marie! The student tickets are almost sold out, thus for these be rather quick. For regular tickets you most likely will still be able to buy them on the 16th of May! Fingers crossed and good luck for the ticket lottery!