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HIV Diagnosis Day 1

Now that You are HIV Positive, What Next?


Updated September 25, 2006

It's hard to imagine what could chill one's soul more than finding out you are HIV positive. So frightening is the prospect that many people do not get tested just to avoid the possibility of being given the bad news. Although very frightening, finding out you are HIV positive is not a death sentence. It also doesn't mean you have AIDS. HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS defining illnesses. One can be HIV positive without having AIDS. Although there is no cure for HIV, there are several medicines that can keep the virus in check, and allow the HIV positive person to lead a long, healthy, productive life. This being said, the fact remains that finding out you have been infected can be scary, confusing, and depressing. So what can we do to get through this rough time and go on with our lives.

The First Step is to Get HIV Tested

Find Your Support System

It is a fact that living with HIV will change your life. Adjusting to the change will be challenging and won't come over night. It won't be easy, but by seeking out the right support system, the process can be made easier. Once you find out you are positive, take a moment and decide who you feel will be supportive and who won't. You don't need to go through the process alone. Parents, spouses, partners, or families may be good sources of support. Councelors or social workers can also be very helpful in this adjustment time. Don't feel you need to tell everyone about your HIV right away. Only do so when you feel the time is right.

HIV Hotlines and Community Resources

Knowledge is Power - Learn All You Can About HIV

The next step in managing this diagnosis, is getting to know the disease. Learn as much as you can about HIV. It is said that knowledge is power. HIV is the perfect example of how knowing your illness, and knowing your body can help manage the disease process. You have taken an important first step by coming to About's HIV/AIDS site.

The Basics of HIV

Choose a Doctor that's Right for You

Another important step in dealing with your HIV is choosing a doctor to manage your care. While some decide to continue their care with their family physician, experts universally agree that in order to get the best HIV care, you should emply the services of an HIV specialist. HIV is a rapidly changing medical field that requires a doctor to be aware of the latest medical facts. Family physicians are just not able to keep up with the rapidly changing field and do not see a large enough number of HIV patients to remain current. In order to get the best HIV care, see an HIV specialist.

How to Find the Right Doctor

Some people choose to use both an HIV specialist and their family doctor. They continue with their family physician for routine matters, such as colds, routine illnesses, and regular yearly physicals. The specialist is left to regulate the HIV medications and to monitor the health of the immune system. If this method is your choice, make sure both physicians communicate with one another. This is imperative to assure continuity in your health care plan.

Staying Healthy

One last important step in dealing with your disease is keeping yourself as healthy as possible. While your physicians can help, it is up to you to optimize your health in order to feel good and to live a productive life. It is important to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and to see your doctor and dentist regularly. If one can avoid smoking, drinking too much alcohol , and using recreational drugs, HIV can be managed more effectively. And always practice safe sex to avoid infecting others and acquiring sexually transmitted diseases that complicate your medical care.

Staying Healthy While Living with HIV

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