I remember the day that I was diagnosed, seeing my whole world pass before my eyes, thinking the end was certainly near. The feeling of guilt, anger, shame, disappointment along with fear overwhelmed my body and mind as I did not know what the future would hold. Holding on to that last bit of hope in the days awaiting the confirmation results from the Western Blot Test, thinking to myself, I am the one in a million that this could be a false positive. I had accepted my diagnosis from the moment I was told, but I wanted anything to hold on to, to help myself believe that this really couldn’t be happening to me. It was one of the roughest times of my life and a period of my existence that I will never forget. So many thoughts rushed through my mind as an unknown future awaited me. How could I face my family, friends, and colleagues knowing that I was now living with what was once considered a death sentence? How will the stigma and discrimination affect me and will I ever be able to live a “normal” life again ? How could God allow this to happen to me, I know I have made mistakes and all, but was I really that bad of a person ? Figuring out how to work through these thoughts, emotions, and feelings was a journey in itself. Learning to grieve with such a diagnosis and really push forward was not easy at all, but I can assure you, it is possible.
Perhaps you are someone recently diagnosed with HIV, maybe you just now found out. You may be feeling a variety of emotions from anger to sadness, confusion to depression. It’s something that only those of us who have went through a diagnosis truly know how it feels like. Yes there are treatments out there that can allow us to live healthy and normal life spans, but that isn’t the point ! The fact of the matter is your life has majorly changed and it is a life long partnership now with your body and this new virus. Yes one day there will be a cure and we continue pushing for one, but lets focus on right now, the label of being HIV + is official. I want you to know that I understand how you feel, I have went through it, and can relate. Your not alone in this fight, there are so many people living daily with this virus, and you can take hope knowing that though you may feel no one else knows the pain you are experiencing, many do. Every diagnosis is different, every set of circumstances are different, however regardless of how we reached this point the fact is we are here now. So you may be looking for advice as far as where to go from here. It’s understandable as this is all new to you, I know it was for me, where do I even begin ? What are the next steps and how do I go about them?
Advice for Newly Diagnosed HIV Positive
- Educate yourself on the virus that you are living with. You may have questions about it and your doctor is always the best and most qualified person to answer these questions. In addition to discussing your concerns with your doctor by writing a list of any possible questions you might have, it is helpful to educate yourself by visiting scientifically sound websites regarding HIV/AIDS such as http://www.thebody.com which has great resources for those newly diagnosed as well as educational resources to help you grow your knowledge in the subject.
- Education on HIV/AIDS is so important because you will begin to see that with treatment now days millions are living healthy, happy, and productive normal life spans. You will learn how far we have advanced in only 30 years and that what was once a death sentence has now turned into a manageable condition
- Give yourself time to grieve and know that above all, it is OK to cry and be sad over what has happened. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grieving except to simply ignore the grieving process all together and try to push through it. By following the grieving process and giving yourself time to express what you are feeling, wether you know it or not, you are moving forward one baby step at a time. Depending on what feelings you might be having or how serious they are getting, it might be helpful to talk things over with a therapist, if not yet comfortable speaking with those close to you in your life such as friends and family. It helps to have that third party input, sometimes it’s best if it is something that doesn’t know you, as they have no conflict of interest or inserted emotions that might effect how you are feelings. However every case is different and if you trust someone enough in your life to share, then go for it, just know it can’t be undone when it is said so choose carefully. By talking about your feelings with others it will help you as an individual so you are not bottling up emotions that will later come out in an unhealthy way. As always you should discuss what you are feeling with your doctor at all times as they only have your best interest as a patient at heart. People might not know exactly what you are going through but just having support in general is helpful. For more information on the grieving process I would suggest looking up the 5 stages of grief proposed by Elizabeth Kugler-Ross http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/000617
- Connect with others who are living with HIV/AIDS wether that be in person or finding an online support group. It is so important to do this because you need to have others that can support you who know what you are gong through and can help you on a different level. Life with HIV/AIDS is not the end however it is also not always easy and meeting with others can really help bring to light that there are many of us in the same boat, here to support one another, and continue to push on one day at a time. You can check with your local Aids Service Organization in your area (I can help locate what would be the closest one for you if you are not aware of one) and they can help find an in person support group for you as well as offer a wide variety of services that might be useful in this new transition when necessary. You can also find many online HIV support groups, they might not be in person, but the advantage is that they are open 24 hours a day whenever you are having a time of feeling like your in the slumps or just want to let out your feelings and vent. You can find many of these groups on Facebook as well as Yahoo however one excellent group which is available in both English and Spanish that has helped me is the International Place For People With HIV/AIDS and Those That Love Us https://www.facebook.com/groups/mariahiv/ (English) https://www.facebook.com/groups/mariahiv1111/ (Spanish)
- Talk with your healthcare professional about when to start HIV HAART treatment and what regimen when that time comes is right for you. HIV Arv’s are not a cure however they simply suppress the virus to reduce the amount of copies of virus within the body. Recent studies have shown that it is recommended to start HIV HAART as soon as someone has a detectable viral load however it is totally a personal decision between you and your medical professional as to when to start. It is a good question to ask your doctor though when you do get diagnosed so you can already have a battle plan both physical and mental on how to fight back and continue on. We are not victims simply warriors fighting a different type of battle and we will overcome any obstacle that comes our way !
Life is a roller coaster and you might be in a fog right now however know that there is life after an HIV Diagnosis. This journey of being positive is simply a bump in the road however with the right attitude, staying connected by building a strong support network of both positive & negative, as well as staying in contact with your healthcare provider you will do just fine. Remember that both your physical and mental health are so important and both should be equally looked after. If you ever would like to talk and are lost as to where to go, feel free to contact me or join a support group such as the ones mentioned above along with staying in contact with your therapist, life is beautiful and the sun does begin to shine again ! You are not alone and we are unified in this fight together. Never give up ! Never Surrender ! Don’t let this virus define you, take the reigns and control over it, it’s simply a medical condition just like any other. This is not a punishment from God, it is not because you are a bad person, this virus does not discriminate and it can happen to anyone. Don’t let one virus change your inner being, you are so much more than a virus, we may be HIV + but we are composed of so many more things than H.I.V. You are a special amazing person who will find love, succeed in any dream you have, and come to a point where acceptance will be obtained. It is not a night to day process, it does take time, but with dedication you will reach it !
Big thanks to http://www.positivelite.com for continuing to publish my blogs and spreading the word about the HIV/AIDS message of awareness/prevention throughout Canada & North America. You will be amazed at many of the great bloggers they have who write for them and the variety of subjects that are touched on. Please take a moment to check out their website and see all the great work they are doing for the community!!! 🙂
My contact information can be found below if you wish to contact me. Thank you and have a beautiful rest of the day.
This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this site and linkages to other sites, PozitiveHope.com provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. PozitiveHope aka Joshua D Middleton is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.