|  | 

Health

Newly Diagnosed With HIV? Here’s What’s Next

The moments after learning you’re HIV-positive can seem like a virtual free fall. In a matter of seconds, you are sent into a tailspin of what-if scenarios and your vision is filled with horrific images from a bad movie montage. Your mind races, then stalls completely, working in frantic fits and spurts and grasping onto the nuggets of information you can remember about what it is to be HIV-positive today.

The nurse tells you that you are going to be just fine and that HIV is now a manageable disease. The doctor tells you that if you take care of yourself, you can expect to live the same amount of time as you would have if you were HIV-negative. But still, there is an inescapable fear of the unknown. What does it mean to live with HIV? What is going to have to change in your life, and more importantly, what can you expect to remain the same?

You aren’t alone. There are so many others who have gone through the exact same thing and have already asked all the same burning questions that you need to know the answers to. Below are some quick answers to those questions you probably have.

What do I do now?
The first thing to do is to stop panicking. You are the same person who walked into the clinic before receiving your test results. It may seem like everything has changed, but it hasn’t. Still, there are some things you can do to ease your mind and find your way back to being OK.

Find a doctor who is highly knowledgeable about HIV and is the right fit for you. You might be surprised about how uneducated your average family doctor is about HIV and how to treat it. The last thing you need is to be treated by a doctor who has just as many questions as you have. There are many HIV specialists who know exactly how to treat you, and that includes how to ease your concerns. These doctors can also act as your primary physician, who will keep your HIV diagnosis in mind when minor health issues arise along the way.

I found a doctor — now what?
During your first appointment, your doctor will do your initial lab work. This is to see what your CD4 count and viral load is. Your CD4 count is the number of disease-fighting white blood cells you have in your body and your viral load is the number of copies of HIV that are in your system. Your doctor will also determine whether the virus you have is resistant to any medications, which is unlikely.

This sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. No matter what your CD4 count may be, most people can bring their count up by simply taking a single-pill regimen. The same medication can also reduce your viral load to an undetectable level, making it highly improbable for you to transmit the virus to someone else. Most likely, this will be the extent of managing your virus, along with regular checkups with your doctor to make sure that your body is healthy and that your medication is working. The key to staying healthy and keeping an undetectable viral load is to never miss a dose — just as you should with medication for any other ailment.

Can I only have sex with other people who are also HIV-positive?
Of course not! Today, there are multiple ways to have safe sex, and believe it or not, most men are knowledgeable enough to know that informed sex is the safest sex of all, regardless of status. Again, staying compliant with your meds and maintaining an undetectable viral load is the best way to ensure that you never transmit the virus. This method of prevention is for your protection just as much as it is for your partner.

How will I tell my friends and family?
First off, you don’t have to tell anyone except your future sexual partners. But talking about your status may be the best way for you to feel like yourself again. There are probably other people around you who are either HIV-positive or have been affected by HIV in one way or another. The first time you tell someone may be scary, but it gets easier every time. The first step is to just say the three little letters out loud. Start there.

What does it mean to manage my virus?
For most people who are diagnosed today, managing your virus simply means being compliant with a one-pill-a-day regimen. Once you find a doctor, start medication, and achieve an undetectable viral load, you will just need to have your lab work done every four months or so to make sure that everything is all right.

Am I going to die?
Here’s the deal. A person diagnosed today has roughly the same life expectancy as a person who is HIV-negative. However, your virus does make you more susceptible to several other health problems that you need to be aware of. Some of these are cardiovascular disease, kidney problems, and bone density loss. But before you start to panic again, know that these can be prevented with the proper care. Being knowledgeable about what to look out for is the best way to ensure a long and healthy life.

Am I going to get AIDS?
The term AIDS does seem scarier than HIV, doesn’t it? The truth is, many people who are living with HIV will never be diagnosed with AIDS. HIV is a virus; AIDS is a diagnosis that a person receives once the virus reaches a certain point. When your CD4 count dips below 200 and your immune system is so damaged that common illnesses can be life-threatening, your disease is classified as AIDS. As long as you stay on your medication and keep a healthy body and mind, you can keep your CD4 count in the healthy zone and far away from the level of AIDS. And if your CD4 count is already in the danger zone, the correct medication can bring you back up to healthy levels.

Your diagnosis is not the end of anything, but it may be the beginning of living a more informed and health-conscious life.

newly-diagnosed-with-hiv-heres-whats-next

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Related Articles

  • Poppers could cause permanent damage to your eyes

    Poppers could cause permanent damage to your eyes

    For many of you, this will be a difficult read. A recent study from the British Journal of Ophthalmology suggests the inhalants commonly known as “poppers” could cause permanent damage to the retinas of some users. Often sold under the guise of “nail polish remover” or “video head cleaner,” the inhalant has long been popular with gay

  • The Best Snacks For Your Training Goals

    The Best Snacks For Your Training Goals

    If hungry muscles aren’t fed, the body will burn them for fuel. So it’s imperative you get something in your system sharpish. However, a cheeseburger won’t cut the mustard (or the ketchup, or anything else on it). To hit your training goals harder and faster, follow this breakdown of the best snacks to eat at

  • 5 reasons ‘HIV undetectable’ must now mean ‘uninfectious’

    We are not dirty, we are not a threat, and we are not disease vectors. In fact, we are the solution. People living with HIV who achieve viral suppression, who become undetectable, are the solution to the end of new HIV infections in the United States… When we look back 20 years from now we’re

  • These Guys Refuse To Let HIV Stigma Into Their Lives

    These Guys Refuse To Let HIV Stigma Into Their Lives

    A new PSA aims to tackle the stigma that still surrounds HIV/AIDS. The video was produced by the Gay Men’s Health Charity, a British nonprofit, and highlights guys who, despite their statuses, are living their lives to the fullest. It opens with a bunch of cute men hugging and mugging, and then some introductions. They come from all walks of life,

  • There’s Nothing Sexier Than Knowing Your HIV Status

    In a world where people still use the word “clean” to refer to those who aren’t living with HIV, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of stigma about being (or dating) someone with HIV. But we have more tools than ever to make sure those who are negative continue to be so no matter

POST YOUR COMMENTS

Pic of The week

Pic of The week

4GUYS Magazine is your essential guide to the Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Seattle area. You’ll find the latest information on dining, nightlife, culture, news, politics, communities, and trends in Toronto—everything to help you make the most out of living in and around the city.

Division of

Division of

Our Directory

Our Directory

Maximize your Business Visibility and Accelerate your Marketing

Featured Models

Help with $2, $5, $10, $20, $50

Help with $2, $5, $10, $20, $50

If you like our site Help us to make it better. THANK YOU

add-your-events-for-free

add-your-events-for-free

Add as many events as you want for FREE

Bruno Mars Promotion tickets

Bruno Mars Promotion tickets
Please wait...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to be notified when our article is published? Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.