HIV is no longer a new phenomenon but despite the numerous reports about this virus, a lot of us still do not understand what it means to live with it. Getting the news that you’re HIV positive is devastating. It’s even worse if you have minimal knowledge about the virus.
Currently, there are an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States. In the UK, the number of new diagnoses among gay and bisexual men are at a record high. However, due to great strides made in medicine, there are medications that allow HIV+ people to live a longer and healthier life.
Even with these treatments, it’s important that as a person living with HIV, he or she makes choices that will keep them healthy while protecting others too. So what are some of these choices?
Watch your Health
Once you go for HIV testing and the results come out positive, seek further medical assistance and start HIV treatment as soon as possible. Starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) to manage HIV symptoms early improves your chances of staying healthy and living longer. ARTs slow down the progression of HIV, keeping your immune system protected.
ARTs have the potential to keep you healthy for many years and will also greatly reduce your chance of transmitting HIV other people as long as you take them the right way, daily. Ensure that you take your ARTs as directed by your caregiver and visit an STD clinic regularly to confirm all is in check. Doing so will keep your viral load as low as possible.
Let Loved Ones Know About your HIV Status
Disclosing your HIV status to other people is probably the hardest thing that you will have to do and you may feel compelled to hold it off for long or even avoid it completely. While the reaction is understandable, it’s very important to let your sex partners know about your status no matter how uncomfortable you are. By letting them know your status, you give them the chance to take necessary steps to keep both of you healthy.
In most countries, it’s an offence not to disclose your HIV status to your sexual partners if you’re HIV-positive. This should be done before sex whether anal, vaginal, or oral. The law also includes telling needle-sharing partners before sharing needles to inject drugs. In some cases, you may be charged with a crime if you fail to disclose your HIV status, even if your partner doesn’t get infected.
Get and Accept Support
A HIV-positive diagnosis is a life-changing event that will stir up all sorts of emotions—sadness, anger, despair, hopelessness, etc. getting support during this period is very important and will greatly determine how you live with HIV.
There are many healthcare providers and HIV testing clinics that offer professional support that will help you work through the early stages of your diagnosis as you start to manage your HIV. It’s also recommended to talk to others patients as they understand what it means to live with the virus.
Don’t Put Others at Risk
Get to fully understand the various ways that HIV is spread and ensure that you keep others out of risk. Go for regular STD testing as you’re at risk of catching other STIs when you have HIV. Get treated if you have any to avoid spreading them to your partners. The risk of spreading HIV if you have STDs such as syphilis can be about 3 times as higher.
Living with HIV is definitely a struggle but if you take care of yourself and others by making the above-recommended choices, then you should be able to live a fairly healthy, comfortable and longer life.