Are you one of the millions like myself who have received an HIV positive diagnosis and are now wondering where to turn to or what to do? If so, you most likely have many emotions running through your mind right now including but not limited to: anger, sadness, guilt, regret, fear of the unknown, anxiety, and loneliness.
A HIV diagnosis is an often indescribable and profound, life-changing experience. We may feel at a loss as to how to move forward and turn the page to the next chapter of our lives. As you work your way through the grieving process know that you are not alone in this process, their are millions of people like myself who are here to walk the journey along side of you.
The following tips are brief general steps that I feel are helpful in working through the steps of grief that happen after such a major diagnosis.
- Educating yourself about this virus is one of the most important things to do. You don’t have to be a biology major to understand the basic fundamentals of how HIV is transmitted, ways to prevent others from acquiring the virus, and how exactly HIV works against our bodies. In the links below you will find some great information that will help you come to understand that although this virus was once a death sentence it has now changed into a manageable chronic health condition. With current antiretroviral treatment those of us who are HIV positive have the ability to live normal life spans just as our HIV negative counterparts. This is not the end however simply a new beginning.
- Stay in contact with your medical health professional that will be able to help guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Don’t be afraid to ask, this is a learning process, and your doctor should be receptive to what you have to say. If he or she isn’t, then look for a new doctor! If you don’t already have a primary care physician or specialist then see link below to find an Aids Service Organization in your area to see what resources and services are available to you.
- Build a support system which should include others living with HIV/AIDS so you can better connect with others who understand what you are going through. It might be helpful to see a therapist and or psychiatrist during this time to discuss treatment options concerning any mental health issues that may occur as a result of this diagnosis including depression.
- Various support systems exist for those living with the virus including in-person support groups as well as online support groups that can be found on social media networks such as Facebook and Yahoo. Below are two groups that have been vital to my support network since diagnosis and can both be found on Facebook (Both in English & Spanish).
- Give yourself time to work through the grieving process. Acceptance of an HIV diagnosis does not happen overnight and it’ll take time to process everything you are feeling. I suggest looking up the 5 stages of grief by Dr Elizabeth Kugler-Ross here or simply click on link below attached to photo.
- Don’t try to bottle cap your emotions and keep everything inside, know that it is ok to feel angry or sad about what has happened. Some people can work through a diagnosis in a matter of weeks, some it takes years. Don’t rush the process, give yourself time to work through it.
Also, I am sure you are filled with many questions right now and that is completely normal. Please take a moment to check out some of the most frequently asked questions by clicking here. If you have other questions or concerns feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org