After You've Tested Positive

Part of Project Inform's "HIV Health and Wellness" Booklet Series

After You've Tested Positive
Using This Booklet

The main focus of this booklet is to let you know that you can live well with HIV. It may take some time for that message to sink in, because adjusting to this new life may be an emotional road on top of it being a medical one.

This booklet has been written to answer questions that many people have after testing positive. You don't have to figure all of this out at once. Read it at your own pace and revisit it from time to time as you feel ready for more. You're not alone, and with resources and effort you can live a long and healthful life with HIV.

How Is Today Different From Earlier in the Epidemic?

Living with HIV today is very different from what it was like in the 80s or 90s. You may have some real fears about living with HIV or even starting medicines. These fears are normal but some of them may be influenced by outdated information or by stories of what it was like living with HIV in the early years.

At that time, many people got sick well before they even knew they had HIV. They often didn't even get diagnosed with HIV until they went to emergency rooms to be treated for illnesses like pneumonia. But this doesn't happen nearly as often as before.

HIV is now considered a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease. This means it's something to be aware of and attend to each day of your life, but something that can be lived with relatively well.

Today, we know a great deal about HIV. Medicines have dramatically improved and extended people's lives, and today's drugs are safer and easier to take and tolerate. Plus, there are other steps you can take to prolong your life and maintain your health.

Main Points to Remember
  • Today, people can live long and well with HIV.
  • You probably have time to deal with the news and probably don't have to do everything at once.
What Should You Do Now?

What Is Important to Think About First?

You've already done a lot by learning your status and beginning to adjust to living with HIV. You will hopefully have time to get used to your diagnosis, learn about HIV and get your "ducks in a row".

This includes finding a doctor who understands HIV, deciding when to start treatment, and finding local resources to help you make the most of your well-being. Finding others who live with HIV, as well as contacting case managers or social workers, can go a long way to support you in living well.

Main Points to Remember
  • Take some time to get adjusted to the news. Find an experienced doctor you like as well as develop a support system.
  • Many people seek help during this time, such as talking to a case manager or finding support groups or others with HIV.