Learning that you're HIV-positive is a huge shock. But once you know your status you can you get treatment. The medicines we have today to suppress the virus are very advanced and it's possible to live a long and healthy life. Give yourself time to get used to the idea that you have HIV.
Six steps after a positive result
- Go back to your health centre for counselling and support and to get medication to keep your viral load in check.
- Take your meds. HIV medication (called antiretrovirals or ARVs) are much easier to take than they used to be. It's essential that you take them correctly and consistently. If you stop, the HIV can mutate and develop resistance to the drugs you were taking.
- Get healthy. When your immune system is challenged, you need to take better care of yourself. You need to eat well, exercise regularly and quit any bad habits like taking drugs, alcohol or smoking.
- Learn all you can about the virus. You're going to be dealing with HIV for the rest of your life - so it only makes sense to learn all you can about it. Read up. Do the research. Become an HIV expert!
- Make safer sex a lifelong rule. If you are positive and want to ensure that you are never responsible for infecting anyone else with HIV, you should never have sex without using a condom. Not only could you infect others if have unprotected sex, you also risk getting re-infected yourself with another strain of HIV.
- Get hooked up. Look around at your school or health facility for posters of local support groups. You can join and meet other people living with HIV in person or online.
HIV is a manageable disease once you know your status. Make sure your health centre is your first stop after you find out. They will help you take control of your health and give you free ARVs.
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