Testing positive for HIV can be a big shock. You might feel scared, angry, lonely, or other emotions. It is normal to have these feelings. Remember there is help at hand. You will also need to learn more about HIV so that you can understand what you are facing:
What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that attacks and weakens your body’s immune system. Your immune system is your body’s defense fighting off diseases and staying healthy.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Did you know that HIV and AIDS are not the same thing? When you have AIDS, it is a result of the HIV infection severely weakening your body’s defenses to the point that you start contracting serious infections. A person with AIDS is highly infectious meaning that he or she can spread the HIV very easily to another person during unprotected sex.
These days, there is no reason for anyone to reach the point of having AIDS. HIV is now a very manageable health condition and people with HIV can live just as long as anyone else. You just have to make sure you take your treatment properly and every single day.
You can live a long and healthy life even with a positive HIV diagnosis. Make sure that you take the right steps to stay in control of your health:
If you haven’t already started on treatment, this is priority number one. Without treatment, the HIV will increase in your body and eventually make you sick. The daily pill you take is your weapon to slow the virus down. It is important that your healthcare provider explains what HIV is and how the treatment works. Make sure you ask them any questions you have.
Don’t handle this alone
It really helps if you have a person you trust to support you. Someone you can tell that you have HIV. This can be scary because you might be worried about how they will react. Think about who you will tell. It is your decision who you tell about it, when you tell them and where you tell them. You don’t have to tell anyone unless you feel safe and comfortable to do so.
It’s especially important to find a way to tell your partner. They should also get tested and be able to stay healthy. If they test negative, they may want to start PrEP to prevent HIV infection. It is important to always use a condom when having sex.
Watch this Amaze.org video to get tips on how to tell someone close to you about your status.
Talk to a counsellor, a friend that you can trust. You can also contact the loveLife call centre and speak to a counsellor. Remember you will not have to disclose your name you can remain completely anonymous:
It’s important to talk with someone if you notice any of the following, so that you can get the help you need to start feeling better:
- You feel down for a long time.
- You struggle to get up in the morning.
- You feel tired all the time.
- You can’t sleep properly.
- You think about hurting yourself or someone else.
You can live a long and healthy life with HIV. Being diagnosed with HIV may feel like the end of your life, but it’s not.
There’s no cure for HIV, but treatment can help you stay healthy. Find out more about treatment here.
It is important to use condoms every time you have sex. Make sure you know how to use condoms correctly by checking out these videos.
If I have HIV, can I still have sex? Get your answer here.