Saying that you must be overwhelmed and afraid after discovering that you’re HIV positive, is a gross understatement. No one can understand or relate to those feelings unless they’ve experienced it themselves. The initial reaction of people who are diagnosed with HIV is fear, hopelessness, anxiety, loneliness and much more. However, it is quite normal. Nobody will tell you to keep your wits about you and get over it.
However, as much as I encourage staying true to your emotions and taking everything as it comes, you do need to deal with it. So, after giving yourself time to let the reality sink in, buckle up. Here are some ways you can cope with being HIV positive that’ll help you in your confusion.
Go to your Doctor Immediately
If you diagnosed yourself using an at-home HIV test, you need to go to your doctor immediately. Do not delay or stay in denial because each second is precious. And no, you’re not going to die. At least, not right away and not sooner than anyone else. There are a lot of misconceptions about HIV and AIDS that your doctor can help dispel.
Your doctor will run another HIV diagnose test using ELISA immunoassay kits to make sure you’re actually HIV positive. After that, he or she will prescribe a treatment depending on your physical condition.
Start taking Medicines as Soon as Possible
The treatment of HIV mainly comprises of medicines and drugs, called antiretroviral drugs. The truth is, HIV cannot be cured but it can be treated. It is no longer the fatal disease it once was. There are millions of people in the world that are HIV positive and living a happy, healthy life. You just have to keep taking medicines for a long time, just like any other chronic disease.
Start taking medicines as soon as you can. Studies show that patients who started taking antiretrovirals during earlier stages of HIV, experienced less symptoms. It also reduces the chances of HIV developing into AIDS.
Side Effects of Antiretroviral Medicines
Although, there are many medicines available in the market that inhibit the growth of HIV and stop it from developing into AIDS, not all of them are alike. Antiretroviral medicines can cause side-effects, including:
- Sleep disorders, I.e. Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Eating disorders
- Heart diseases
- Mental Health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder
Consult your doctor and get second opinion in your case before starting any long term treatment. Some of the side-effects cause by antiretroviral drugs can cause more damages than the HIV virus itself. Or you can become the victim of defective drug use. For example, the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, which developed antiretroviral drug called Truvada, is under fire for selling a medicine and not disclosing the risks it carry. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you should file a Truvada Lawsuit so that you can be reimbursed for your lose.
Read up on it
In order to get out of your confused state and truly cope with being HIV Positive, you need to read up on it. A lot. Get to know your enemy, its strength and weaknesses because you are going to live with it all your live. The number of misconceptions regarding HIV is uncountable and people are generally reluctant to ask them. Some of them are:
Do you have to Give Up Sex?
No. But you do have to take additional precautionary measures to stop it from spreading. HIV spreads through direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids, mostly blood and semen. If you have protected sex, take medicines regularly and keep the viral load in your body so minimum that it is undetectable, then you’re good to go.
Can you pass it on your Partner?
Yes and No. Like I said before, you need to take extra measures to ensure that it doesn’t spread to your partner. You can still have a healthy sex life while being HIV positive but the key here is to be completely honest to your partner about your health status.
Can you pass on your HIV to your baby during Pregnancy?
The rate of mothers passing HIV to their babies during pregnancy used to be very high. But these days, there are a lot of medicines available that can prevent it from happening. Consult with your doctor about effective ways of preventing HIV infection before and during pregnancy.
Take Care of your Mental Health
Studies show that there is a direct connection between physical ailments and mental disorders. Your mental health can take a turn for the worse if you find out that you’re HIV positive. Make sure to talk to your doctor about the psychological aspect of being HIV+ as well. It can cause depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, guilt and worthlessness. It can even cause suicidal thoughts, therefore, consult a psychologist for coping mechanisms.
Join Support Groups
Even if you are physically and emotionally healthy and undergoing a treatment successfully, you can still be unable to cope with your diseases. Joining support groups is a great way to overcome it. You can meet people who are in a similar situation as you. They’ll understand what you’re going through, which will give you the emotional support you need, which psychologists and even family members are unable to provide.