Being diagnosed with HIV can be a traumatic experience – both mentally and physically, and can leave you feeling confused, angry and sad.
Following your diagnosis and initial shock, you may have several questions going around in your head. Here at MTV Shuga we’ve listened to your concerns and have come up with ten questions you may have at this moment.
There’s so much more to learn about being HIV positive, but this information can be a good start…
Here are ten things that you should know about HIV/AIDS:
- Can the result be wrong?
It can take a while for HIV to be detected in your bloodstream, so when you’re first tested and found to be HIV positive, there is a second test carried out to make sure the initial result is correct. The second test is usually carried out after three months and is known as the window period.
- Am I going to die?
This is a massive fear for a lot of people. But when it comes to HIV, the most important thing is to get on the right treatment as early as possible. Once you have HIV, you have it for life but taking medication, exercising regularly and watching what you eat will help you maintain good health and allow you to live a long and full life.
- Is there a cure?
Despite reports, there are currently no known cures for HIV. Scientists all over the world are searching for a cure but for now the research continues. Medicine advances all the time and HIV treatment has gone from strength to strength, with one pill a day (instead of ten) a good way of keeping you fit.
- Am I going to infect someone else?
HIV is not transmitted by day-to-day activities or by contact with objects, foods or clothes. This means that you can hug, shake hands, share toilet seats, and use the same cutlery without infecting your nearest and dearest.
- Can I still have sex?
As long as you strap up, wrap up or whatever you want to call it, using a condom and taking the necessary precautions can help you have a safe and busy sex life. If you are in a relationship with someone who has a negative status, they could consider taking PrEP.
PrEP helps reduce a partner’s risk of getting HIV.
- Will I lose my job?
In a lot of countries, it is illegal for your boss to fire you because you have HIV. Taking a test before getting hired, or having to tell your boss that you’re positive are things of the past. You are in no way required to tell your boss or fellow workers that you have HIV, and can tell them only if YOU want to.
- How do I tell my friends and family?
Everyone has their own way. All situations are different. There are people you can speak to and ask for help with telling your family. Your local clinic can direct you to support groups where people share their experience of dealing with HIV, and find out how others told their families. Yet, everyone is unique and only you can truly know the best way to explain your status.
- If I have kids, will my baby be positive too?
ARVs can help keep your viral load low, meaning that pregnancies, child births and even breastfeeding can be perfectly safe for a new baby. There is less than a 5% chance of passing on HIV from a pregnant mum to her child if the right medication is taken.
- Can I travel abroad and live in another country?
Most countries are pretty chilled and don’t stop people with HIV from coming to explore and live in their countries. However, with everything, not everyone is on the same page and some states may not let people with HIV settle in their countries. The majority of places, including America nowadays, will welcome you as the free-spirited traveler you are, so don’t worry about the fearful few who are less welcoming. It’s their loss.
- How’s my life going to change?
Life does change when people find out they’re HIV positive. Life, however, doesn’t stop. Life with HIV looks different to what it might have before, but that does not mean you can’t follow the dreams you previously had. Exercise, clean food, less alcohol and daily medication are some of the ways in which your life will change. Making these changes can help keep the virus in the blood almost undetectable, and help keep you healthy.