An HIV diagnosis for someone recently diagnosed is one of the toughest things someone can go through. Their is so much uncertainty, emotions, and confusion that the combination of all three can equal a disaster if not handled correctly. People do not know where to turn, how to handle the situation, nor a way to continue on in the future. For those of us who have accepted our diagnosis as I have spoke of before, HIV might be a little bit easier to deal with, however just like anyone living with a chronic health condition we have our good and bad days. Finding out about an HIV positive diagnosis and trigger many different feelings inside a person and if not dealt with accordingly can have dire consequences including thoughts that the person might have never had if in a stable mental state. An HIV diagnosis is going to mess with your brain, simple as that, it is going to trick you into believing their is no hope or future, nothing could be further from the truth.
Though it is a very serious condition to be dealing with their are many of us who are living happy, healthy, and productive lives while HIV +. Yes it takes time to accept the diagnosis however throughout this whole journey, no matter how many years we have been living with it, we are all in need of support. Back in the 1980’s when many were dying by the thousands support groups were set up to help people deal with it, in person support so others could connect and relate to each other. As medical advancements have arrived and HIV has converted from a death sentence to a manageable condition, support has also changed. Though their are many in person support groups still out there today in existence, mainly available here in the US through local Aids Service Organizations (ASO’s), many no longer feel the need to be somewhere in person. Technology has advanced and people are seeking out other ways for support, though many still go to in person peer support groups, which is totally fine as well. Bottom line is if you are positive you need to be in some sort of support system, no matter how strong you think you are.
Support for me was hard to find at the beginning of my diagnosis. I found an local ASO in San Diego was more interested in signing me up for ADAP and other services which due to my income and job I would not be in need of, however those were always put above support. I can guarantee you that mental health and keeping a good support system around you is just as important as every other aspect of living with HIV/AIDS. Without a good support system around you, eventually, all the emotions and feelings kept inside will be like a soda bottle pumped with air, it’ll explode. If you can find an in person support group and that is what works for you, fantastic. If you cannot their are other options out there for you to help continue to get you through this process. Never hurts to have someone who knows what your going through, though many of us have negative affected friends/family around us that support us tremendously, no one truly knows what it is like to walk this journey until they are in our shoes.
The International Place for People Living With HIV/AIDS and Those That Love Us along with the sister Spanish group “Grupo Internacional Para Personas Viviendo Con VIH/SIDA y Las Personas Afectadas” are two groups on Facebook founded by Maria Mejia, international HIV activist and good friend, that have been a pillar of support since my diagnosis. The two groups together equal around 20,000 members total and is a diverse group comprised of all different races, sexualities, economic statuses, countries, cultures, religions or lack of one, and so much more. They are both closed groups so no one can see what you post except the actual members within the group. We have two fantastic administration teams in both groups which I have the honor to be a part of and it truly is a family feel. Their is a large number of members from long term survivors of 25 – 30 + years as well as newly diagnosed who have just found out within the last couple of days or weeks. We are here to offer a safe, comforting, and educational space where we can come together to share our thoughts, experiences, and feelings. It is interesting to see how HIV/AIDS is handled in a variety of countries and to see just how many brothers/sisters we have throughout the world fighting this daily. Our group continues to grow and we would like to welcome you if you are looking for support to check out either group, we would be happy to have you. Their is also a variety of other HIV/AIDS related support groups on Facebook as well as other social media to provide support :).
Surrounding yourself with a support system of both positive and negative people who will stand by you through thick and thin is essential. No one is equipped to handle this diagnosis all on their own, it is not a matter of being weak or not being “strong” enough to take it, it’s more about connecting with others and taking the proper steps for your health. We only have one life to live, so why not make it a happy one? HIV or no HIV, we are still here, and still must continue to push through each day with the best attitude possible. Know that you have people out there to support you, talk with, open up to, and not be judged for what you are feeling. For those who have accepted a diagnosis you might be saying well why do I need that? You can’t tell me honestly with a straight face there hasn’t been a time it has gotten overwhelming, a time when you could really just use someone else going through it to talk to. Of course we all have our own individual life stories and issues aside from HIV/AIDS however this is a bond that we are connected through by blood. We have a virus running through our system, though it might be inside of us, it doesn’t have to control us. Lets keep pushing on and lean on each other for support when necessary. We can get through this, together, one day at a time.
Thank you for reading my blog and I invite you to check out one of my supporters http://www.positivelite.com which is a fantastic website doing great work for all PLWHA while also providing a wide access to blogs/vlogs from other activists as well and the most current articles on HIV/AIDS news updates. I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the day, please remember to always use protection and get tested to know your status.
Feel free to contact me at any of the links below, I am not a medical professional and cannot offer you medical advice, however I am someone that has some experience living with this virus and can offer you my unconditional support. Much ❤ to all, take care, until next time.