I’m HIV-positive. What now?

I’m HIV-positive. What now?

HIV/Aids centre

I’m HIV-positive. What now?

The nurse says you’re going to be just fine. The doctor tells you that with a healthy lifestyle and the right medical care, you’ll live a long, productive life. But still, you’re afraid of the unknown. What does living with HIV mean?

Here are a few guidelines to help you through this difficult time.

First, stop panicking. You’re the same person who walked into the clinic before receiving your test results. While it may seem like everything has changed, it hasn’t.

Find a health care provider who is knowledgeable about HIV. During your first appointment, he/she will establish your CD4 count (the amount of white blood cells you have in your body) and your viral load (the level of HIV in your body). You then have to have regular check-ups to make sure your body is healthy and never miss your daily dose of medication.

Ask your doctor about changes that need to be made to your diet, exercise routine and alcohol use. If drugs were involved when you were infected with HIV, your doctor might recommend rehab. Open communication with your doctor will ensure that you are fully equipped to handle the changes in your life.

Safe sex

Ask your doctor about practising safe sex for both you and your partner. Use condoms to protect yourself from other infections. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to get re-infected with HIV. If you do pick up an STI, get it treated as soon as possible. It’s very important to finish your treatment and to get your partner treated too, otherwise he/she will re-infect you!

How will I tell my friends and family?

You don’t have to tell anyone except your current or future sexual partners. But talking about your status is the best way for you to feel like yourself again.

I’m afraid of dying

You’ve roughly the same life expectancy as if you were HIV-negative. However, you are more susceptible to several health risks such as cardiovascular disease, kidney problems and bone density loss, which can be prevented with the proper care. Being knowledgeable about what to look out for is the best way to ensure a long and healthy life.

Will I get Aids?

As long as you stay on your medication and keep a healthy body and mind, you can keep your CD4 count in the healthy zone, far away from Aids. If your CD4 count is already in the danger zone, the correct medication can bring you back to healthy levels.

Your diagnosis is certainly not the end; it may be the beginning of living a more informed and health-conscious life.


Revised by M Collins