Did You Just Test HIV Positive?
As upsetting as testing positive can be, you are better off knowing. Once you know you are HIV+, you can take charge of your health and have the best chance to slow or prevent disease progression. Getting informed about HIV and its treatment will help you make the best of your situation.
An important factor in getting good care and treatment is to find the right health care provider. Look for a health care provider who specializes in treating HIV. Studies have shown that an HIV+ person whose health care provider treats many HIV+ people lives longer than a person whose health care provider treats a few HIV+ people.
Even though there is no cure for HIV disease, there are many treatments that help keep HIV under control. There are now over 30 HIV drugs available. Much has been learned about how to use these drugs more easily and effectively, and with fewer side effects. The use of HIV drugs is allowing many HIV+ people to live long and healthy lives.
You will need to get information and work with your health care provider to decide what treatments are best for you. There are many good places to get information including ASOs, hotlines, and websites. But be careful about the information you are getting. Check it out with your health care provider or other reliable sources to make sure it is accurate. Remember, there are no "miracle" cures. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.
Learning that you are HIV+ may make you feel you have lost control over your life. Try not to let this rush you into making decisions when you are still coming to terms with your diagnosis. Remember, you are in charge of your own health care. You can decide which treatments you use and when to use them. Take your time and learn about your options. Unless you are very ill and need to make treatment decisions quickly, you have time to think things through. (See The Well Project's info sheet on Considering HIV Treatment.)
You are not alone. About one million people in the US are HIV+, and approximately one in four people newly diagnosed with HIV are women. There are many HIV+ women who can provide information, support, and advice.
Keeping to yourself can make the process of moving forward after the diagnosis more difficult. It is a good idea to reach out to people, but if anyone threatens you with violence or is abusive, it is time to step away from them. Take yourself and any children you have to a safe place and talk with someone you trust. You need a positive environment and supportive people in your life. For more information, see our Domestic Violence info sheet.
Also be careful not to put your family's welfare ahead of your own. When you take care of yourself, you are doing something good for yourself and your family. You owe it to them to make sure you are as healthy as you can be. See The Well Project's info sheet on Women and HIV for more information.
Being diagnosed with HIV is life changing. Once you know you are HIV+, you can never unknow it. Learn to see yourself as a person living with HIV, not a victim. You can do this by getting informed, taking charge of your health care, and learning how to manage HIV. There are many resources to help you on this new path (see resource section on this sheet).
You may find that some of the priorities in your life now change. This can be a good thing. Facing a serious illness can prompt people to make their lives better. Many HIV+ people make favorable changes such as breaking bad habits like drinking too much or smoking. As serious as the diagnosis is, there is good reason to have hope that your life will be full and healthy. Do not give up on yourself or your dreams.
Quick links to related info sheets or resources by The Well Project for those seeking information on HIV or HIV Treatment:
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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