Tested positive today. What now?

Question

I just found out that I'm HIV positive today I'm afraid I'm 24 years I'm angry and I feel like my life is falling apart I don't know who to talk to to tell me more someone who has it..I'm afraid of dying

Answer

Thank you for writing. I'm sorry to hear that you tested positive today. You're reaction of fear and anger and not being sure who to tell is all very normal. I know it doesn't lessen any of those feelings but it is a normal reaction to surprising news.

You need to know some other things about testing positive:

Such a diagnosis today does not have the fatal implications that it once had. Most people discover they are positive while they are still very healthy. In such cases there are a wide variety of antiretroviral therapies that are very effective at controlling the virus. Speak with your healthcare provider about getting on meds right away.

HIV will not affect your lifespan. Someone diagnosed today who takes their medications and lives a healthy life should not expect the virus to alter the course of their lives. You are not going to die of HIV-related complications.

With each passing day this news will be a bit easier to integrate. Eventually it will become just another small component in your life. There will be days when, except for taking your meds, you won't think about HIV.

There will be a period after which you will remember you are living with HIV without eliciting those painful feelings of fear and anger. The psychological adjustment to living with HIV is perhaps the most complicated depending on how much work we have done on ourselves already. There is still a lot of stigma (depending on where you live) so there will be adjustments.

It is important to disclose your status (in your own time) to at least a selected group of close acquaintances who can support you when you need it. Don't make the mistake of telling everyone you know too soon. Some people deal with the anxiety about disclosure by just blurting it out to everyone and then regret it.

Most of all, be gentle with yourself, stay close to your doctor, and stay connected to your social support.

You can find lots of other information at TheBody's Resource Center for the Newly Diagnosed..

Wishing you all the best,

David