Newly Diagnosed!

“I simply couldn’t believe the doctors when they told me I could still live a normal life and that I didn’t need to worry. But the more I researched, the more I realized how much has changed since the 80s/90s. It helped me a great deal to see how far treatments have come.” Still Searching at

Take a deep breath.
Stay informed.

Remember that everyone who is HIV+ does not progress to AIDS.

Being diagnosed as HIV+ can be overwhelming. Remember that having HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was. With good medical care you can live a long, healthy and productive life. Chances are you do not have AIDS. There are now more than 30 medications that can keep HIV from replicating in your body and more than 30 years of medical and social experience with HIV and AIDS.

No doubt you now have questions about HIV. Write them down and take them with you when you visit your doctor. Your medical support people will be glad you did. Other
questions will arise too.. Where do I find a good doctor? How is my insurance coverage? Where can I find support? What changes do I have to make.? Who do I tell. It can be helpful if you write these down too and seek answers.

You may feel that your life has changed. Understand what HIV and AIDS are. Find support wherever you can. Ask you doctor if he has a lot of HIV patients. If not, find one that does. Make an appointment with San Diego’s HIV/AIDS agencies. They are there to help. Seek out others with HIV, they have experience that might be helpful.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus

HIV is the VIRUS that attacks the IMMUNE system of HUMANS. It is the virus that causes AIDS.

H Human – This virus is only found in humans. It causes immunodeficiency.

IImmunodeficiency – HIV weakens you immune system. Your immune system is your body’s system of fighting infections.

VVirus – An infectious agent reproduces itself by taking over cells. This virus can be controlled with medications.

How HIV works.

HIV enters T-cells which are a key part of your immune system. Once inside a T-cell, HIV reproduces itself, kills the T-cell and sends out more HIV which attack more T-cells. Over time, your T-cell count is diminished and you are unable to fight off infections. When this happens, someone infected with HIV has progressed to AIDS.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stand for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

AIDS is a collection of symptoms that indicate a deficiency in your immune system. It is acquired, not inherited.

    • A – Acquired – AIDS is acquired, it is not something you are born with.
    • I – Immuno – means your body’s immune system.
    • D – Deficiency – means your immune system it is not working as it should.
    • S – Syndrome – A syndrome is a collection of symptoms of disease. AIDS is not a disease, it is a group of symptoms.

What can I do?

Find a doctor who has a number of HIV/AIDS patients. If you need help finding a doctor, you can join the POZabilities Yahoo Group. This is a closed group for HIV+ individuals. You can post a message here and ask for doctor recommendations from other HIV+ people. Once you have found a doctor take a written list of questions. Your appointment will go faster and you won’t have to say, “OH, I almost forgot….” Be sure to ask how often you should return for follow-up. You may have to visit more than one doctor to find someone you are comfortable with. You’ll find some help with that here.

If you don’t have health insurance or enough health insurance you may qualify for help. you can find information about eligibility, coverage and application on the Owen Clinic website.

Keep follow-up appointments even if you do not feel ill. Thanks to lab tests, modern medications, and a caring medical team, someone who is diagnosed as HIV+ today and seeks treatment can have a nearly normal life expectancy. You may not have to take medications right away but monitoring your health is a good idea.

Find Support – Getting in touch with other HIV+ people can be helpful. Support groups can help you negotiate the emotional and physical issues you are going to face. Visit HIV/AIDS agencies to find out what support available for you.

Should I come out as HIV+?

You may find that who to tell and who not to tell is a difficult decision. You can ease the burden of disclosure by considering who you want to tell and what reactions you can expect from them. Who will give you the support you need? Who will find it hard to deal with your status? Who may discriminate against you. Not everyone needs to know but your doctor and your sex partners certainly do. Tell others as you are ready.

Be prepared to answer questions by being knowledgeable about HIV and the state of your health, be prepared for rejection. It can hurt. Remember that rejection about them, it is not about you. They are having trouble dealing with the situation. Talking to a friend about the situation may help you find a solution. You can’t control how others feel, but you can look for a way to handle it.

What can I do to stay healthy?

Doing what you can to stay health may be more important for you now as it was before your diagnosis. Find out about HIV. Seek support services. Look into San Diego’s local support groups. Finding a sympathetic ear can be helpful; talk to others who are HIV+.

Get enough exercise.
Exercise it may help you feel better and reduce some of the side effects of HIV. Exercise can improve muscle mass, strength and endurance, Improve your energy, increase bone strength, decrease LDL, cholesterol and triglycerides while Increasing good HDL cholesterol, and Improve your appetite. If exercise is not a part of your life and you cannot afford a gym membership, start by walking. You can also:

    • Skip the elevator, take the stairs
    • Ride a bicycle
    • Dance
    • Walk on the beach
    • Yoga

You’ll feel better and your body will thank you.

Eat nutritious food. Food is your bodies fuel, but we don’t always eat as well as we should. If you have access to a registered dietician, make an appointment for a nutrition check-up. Registered dietitians have years of education and training in the science of
food and nutrition. Keep in mind that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. And anyone can own a nutrition website. Ask for credentials and beware of someone with a sales pitch. You’ll find some sensible advice from Web-MD. For a more depth see The’s FAQ’s About HIV and Nutrition, Exercise and Supplements.

Seek a profession mental health counselor if necessary. If you find that your diagnosis is overwhelming, seek help from a mental health professional. Counseling services are free for people with HIV at The Center. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 619-692-2077 x208.

Alternative medicine.
Many people with HIV use complementary and alternative medicine along with Western medical treatments, in order to get the benefits of both.

    • Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine.
    • Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine.

Traditional medicine is the term applied to ancient forms of complimentary and alternative medicine.

Some of these approaches are valuable and some are questionable. It pays to do some research before using alternative, complimentary, or traditional medications. You’ll find a list of fact sheets on alternative and complementary therapies, Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, Native American healing and more at AIDS InfoNet.

California Law

In California, state law requires that care providers or clinics forward all HIV positive patient tests to a local health officer, who then reports the case to the California Department of Public Health. These records can never be released If you willfully disclose a patient’s confidential HIV testing information to a third party, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. You can be convicted of a felony if you are HIV+, are aware of your status, have unprotected sex, do not disclose your status to your partner and act with the intent to infect your partner.