I'm HIV positive but I'm still me
HIV is a part of you. It’s not all of you. You are not the disease.
Being diagnosed as HIV positive can be an extremely difficult moment in someone’s life. Life stands still and emotions can take over, leaving you feeling down and depressed. It is okay to feel upset. It’s okay to be angry. What you need to remember though, is that HIV is not a death sentence.
36.7 million people were living with HIV/AIDS as of 2015. In South Africa, four million young people aged 15-24 years old were HIV positive in 2013.
You are not alone. There is no cure when it comes to HIV, but there are ways you can live your life to the full and realise the dreams you’ve always had.
MTV Shuga tries to deal with HIV in a real and direct way. The characters in the show who live with HIV reflect the challenges people living with HIV face. It can be tough being HIV positive: facing stigma from society, taking medication and dealing with inner doubts can weigh you down. Yet, there are ways to live with HIV in a positive way.
It’s important to know that the law is 100% on your side, in South Africa it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their HIV status. Also, seeing people continue in their everyday lives can be a huge help. Femi continues to pursue his dreams of making it in the music industry by managing Africa’s biggest acts. His status does not hold him back from realising his goals. It shouldn’t hold you back either.
Like Femi, it is important to be open about your status to any new partners. It’s hard telling someone new that you’re HIV positive. Not knowing how they will react or whether they will accept you is frightening. If you decide to tell them about your status, then that is your choice and your choice only. No one can force you to disclose your status. Your partner may find out eventually, so it might be better for them to hear it from you first rather than discovering it somewhere along the line.
HIV is something you will live with for the rest of your life. Your life will change. Having the necessary information, exercising, eating the right things and taking the correct medication will all have to be integrated into your life for you to be living a healthy life.
The following link is a good source if you want to find out more on living positively:
How to tell someone that you’re HIV positive…
There is no shame when it comes to HIV.
People have different opinions when it comes to the matter, but in reality people living with HIV are exactly that: PEOPLE.
By speaking about HIV and positive living we are able to counter some people’s negative ideas when it comes to HIV, which are usually bred from a lack of information and confusion.
To find out more on how you can disclose your status, follow this link:
Having a relationship when you have HIV…
Having HIV does not mean you will never find love or have sex. Yet, your status will be something you have to consider every time you are in a sexual situation. Like everyone, having safe sex is so important if you decide to have sex. For people living with HIV, safe sex means telling your partner about your status and wearing a condom when having sex.
By following antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV positive people can reduce their viral load to an almost undetectable level. This reduces the chances of transmitting HIV to another person. Yet, there still remains a small risk of HIV transmission, so condoms should still be used when having sex. HIV comes in different strains. If you are re-infected with a different strain, then it makes it harder for your medication to deal with your status.
For those having a sexual relationship with someone who is HIV positive and you are HIV negative, taking PrEP is a good way to remain sexually healthy. PrEP consists of a single pill taken each day. This can reduce the risk of them becoming infected with HIV, and reduce them and their partner’s anxieties when having safe sex – but a condom should always be used, even by those taking PrEP.
In emergency situations, PEP (not to be confused with PrEP) is also a potential form of medication that HIV negative people can take. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is used to prevent HIV infection after a possible exposure. For PEP to work, medication needs to be taken as soon as possible following a person’s exposure to HIV, and must be taken within 72 hours of exposure in order to be effective.