Diagnosed in 1987
(pictured with his HIV-negative wife Rosalía)
"Get educated. Find a support group, so that if you need to talk to somebody, you can talk there. Because there are people like you who are dealing with the same thing. Also, get a doctor who is a specialist on HIV. That's important, because not every doctor knows about HIV."
You're not alone. It's one of the most important things to keep in mind as you adjust to the fact that you're living with HIV. And thanks to the Internet, it's more true today than it's ever been.
Nobody should face an HIV diagnosis all by themselves. So, whatever your reservations, make sure you connect with a community of HIV-positive people. It's a key step towards solving both the emotional and practical problems of living with HIV.
Finding Support in Person
In the U.S., every state has a number of local HIV/AIDS organizations. An HIV/AIDS organization can be a true lifeline in many ways. Most organizations offer most, if not all, of these critical services:
- Support groups, in which you regularly meet and talk with other HIVers in the area (some organizations even offer specific support groups for drug users, gay men, women, recently diagnosed people and so on)
- Counseling for mental health issues or substance abuse
- Case managers, who can help coordinate the mental and physical care you need, and get you connected with government assistance (such as Medicaid, disability insurance and help paying for medications)
- Classes or workshops on topics such as learning more about HIV, taking your HIV meds properly, nutrition, fitness and other important issues
- HIV prevention counseling, including free condoms and discussions about how to protect yourself from other sexually transmitted diseases while also ensuring you don't pass HIV to others
- Go on a retreat! Connecting with other HIV-positive people can be a challenge, especially if you live in remote areas or work full time. One little known option is to go on an HIV retreat. There are an assortment of retreats across the country where you can meet and get to know other positive people. Some are even free or low cost, others have scholarships. They range from carefree holidays to educational weekends. There are retreats beachside, in the mountains and in the middle of the biggest U.S. cities. These retreats are geared for the newly positive as well as people who have long ago processed their diagnosis and are just looking for a chance to unwind.
If you live outside the U.S., use our country-by-country listing of HIV/AIDS organizations to locate sources of help near you.
Finding Support Online
Here on TheBody.com, we offer a few great ways for you to connect with others and get the support you need.
- Ask the Experts: A range of top HIV doctors and other experts answer your questions about everything from HIV treatment and side effects to mental health and insurance issues.
- Personal Stories: HIV-positive people from all walks of life share their stories about how they were infected, how they coped with their diagnosis and how they've handled the ups and downs of living with HIV. In addition to written articles and interviews, also be sure to listen to our podcasts in Podcast Central.
Where to Get Help
In the United States
Outside the United States