The impact of an HIV diagnosis can feel overwhelming. Some feel as though their life is ending. Luckily, with advanced therapies, living with HIV isn’t a death sentence like it used to be. In fact, those living with HIV can live relatively normal lives for years and even decades after first becoming infected. In addition, there is a large community of those living with HIV and plenty of available resources to get information, proper care, and support.
Here is some advice for those newly diagnosed with HIV:
- First, take a deep breath. Now is the time to reach out for the support of friends, family, your partner, and those around you who care about you.
- It’s important to start forming a strong relationship with your primary care doctor. Get all the blood tests and run whatever other tests your physician suggests. Luckily there are anti-viral drugs, known as a cocktail, that can bring your viral load down to undetectable levels.
- You may have to change your lifestyle, incorporating more healthful practices such as eating right, getting more sleep, and exercising. Make sure you stick with it. This is your health we are talking about. t give up.
- Get informed. There are lots of resources out there, including in your area. It can feel really scary, so get as much information and support as you need. If you are having trouble finding those who understand where you are coming from, find a support group in your area.
- Remember that HIV is only an aspect of who you are. Don’t let it define you. Remember to take part in all the other aspects of your life such as your job/career, passions, hobbies, love, life, friendships and more.
- HIV may get in the way some times and some people get overwhelmed by the fear and sadness. It’s important to allow yourself to grieve and work through all of the emotions. It really is a life changing event, but if you learn to manage it as just an aspect of your multi-faceted and fulfilling life than it becomes not such a big deal anymore. This isn’t a terminal diagnosis. You don’t have to die of HIV anymore. It takes work and effort. So you have to realize that this is going to change your life in some pretty significant ways.
- If you have been rejected by your family, make your own new support group of friends. Support from those who understand and care about you is so important in this trying time. Developing and maintaining a positive attitude is really important.
Life doesn’t end at diagnosis. It’s just the beginning for some tremendous changes in your life. Don’t feel as though this is only an experience for you to learn from. Volunteer in organizations, donate to HIV/AIDS research, go to rallies and inform youth and peers of your struggles and how they can avoid contracting HIV. Remember that you aren’t dying of HIV. You are learning to live with it.