Newly Diagnosed!


Don’t let HIV become overwhelming.

If you have a positive HIV test result, a follow-up test will be conducted. If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you are HIV-positive. If your follow-up test result confirms you are infected with HIV, the next thing is to take steps to protect your health and prevent transmission to others.

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.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Got questions? Write them down.

and take them with you when you visit your doctor, your therapist, or an HIV AIDS organization. The people you talk to will be glad you did. Ask yourself – Where do I find a good doctor? Do I have adequate health insurance? 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. Find support wherever you can 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.

Find a doctor who has a number of HIV/AIDS patients.

If you need help finding a doctor, you can join POZabilities Google Group (send an email to poz@pozabilities.org and ask to join) 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. If you don’t have health insurance or enough health insurance you may qualify for help. ADAP may cover your medications, You can find help about health insurance and paying for medications under REFERENCES on POZabilities Resource page.

Find Support

Look into San Diego’s local support groups. Finding a sympathetic ear can be helpful; talk to

others who are HIV+. Support groups can help you negotiate the emotional and physical issues you are going to face. Visit San Diego’s HIV/AIDS Agencies. Look into San Diego’s local support groups. POZabilities offers social activities for people with HIV and Building On A Positive Life, a support group for HIV+ men. Find support at Facebook’s POZ Place and Trans Positive. You can find information about HIV online POZ.com and The Body.com

You may want a profession mental health counselor.

If you find that your diagnosis is overwhelming, seek help from a mental health professional

Check your insurance coverage. Several agencies in San Diego offer mental health services 

Find them here!

U=U UNDETECTABLE = UNTRANSMITTABLE

When taken as prescribed, HIV medications can decrease the amount of HIV present in a person’s blood, or “HIV viral load”, to be too low to measure. This is called being undetectable. Being undetectable prevents HIV disease from progressing and allows people to live long and healthy lives. It also protects the health of their sex partners.

People cannot pass HIV through sex when they have undetectable levels of HIV. This prevention method is estimated to be 100% effective as long as the person living with HIV takes their medication as prescribed and gets and stays undetectable. This concept known as Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U). There are now more than 30 medications that can keep HIV from replicating in your body.

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?

Get enough exercise.

Exercise 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. Try one or more of these:

    • 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. Find out more about food resources for HIV positives in San Diego. You’ll find some sensible advice from Web-MD. For a more depth see The Body.com’s FAQ’s About HIV and Nutrition, Exercise and Supplements.

Complimentary, Traditional and Alternative Treatment

Many people with HIV use Complementary and Traditional medicine to relieve symptoms of the virus, side effects from treatment, or to help improve their mood.

Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine.

Traditional medicine is the term applied to ancient forms of complementary medicine.

Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine and should not be relied on to treat HIV.

Some of these approaches are valuable and some are questionable. Don’t buy into treatments that claim to be miracle potions that cure HIV/AIDS. It pays to do some research before using complimentary or traditional therapies. The Well Project has an informative article on complimentary therapies.

California HIV Laws

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 are used to guide California’s HIV care programs. Your name on 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 misdemeanor 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. find out more at Pride Legal.

 

REFERENCES
ADAP Explained
Covered California Insurance
OA-HIPP Insurance
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