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Word on the Street

From Me to You: Tips on Dealing With an HIV/AIDS Diagnosis

HIV-Positive People Share Their Experiences and Offer Advice

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Larry Bryant

Larry Bryant, Washington, D.C., diagnosed in 1986

Just take a deep breath, because your immediate reactions might be to do something that will make the situation worse.

So it's like: think, and feel, and hold on. Don't panic! A lot of this is easier said than done, but just take a deep breath. And do as much as you can beforehand. If you're in a situation where you are knowingly getting tested, do as much as you can to equip yourself.

Some of us think, "Oh, I can take it when I get it," but you never know what it's going to feel like.

What is the first thing someone should do when they find out they have HIV?

The easy answer, I think, is, "Get help." Talk to someone, get it out -- not necessarily out in the open, but understand where you are. I think a lot of people either attack it head-on almost with overkill, like a panic situation, or they completely ignore it and figure, "There's nothing I can do about it now -- I'm just going to roll up and die." But I think people should just do everything they can to assess where they are and what they need to keep themselves where they are. Because it's not necessary for people to readjust everything -- it's more about making sure the status quo is protected, and then build from there.

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