Newly Diagnosed with HIV?

Living With HIV

Living with HIV can be scary but you don’t have to deal with it alone. Your doctor or healthcare worker and other people living with HIV can support you through this difficult time.

Some people share their diagnosis with family and friends while others prefer to keep their diagnosis private. Both are fine – it’s totally up to you.

The important thing to remember is that taking treatment means you can live a long and healthy life like anyone else. Alongside treatment, there are lots of things you can do to keep yourself healthy and happy, and improve your overall wellbeing.


Newly Diagnosed?

Finding out you have HIV can be a shock. It’s likely you will have a lot of questions and you may be dealing with difficult feelings.

Remember that having HIV doesn’t have to stop you living a full and healthy life. With the right treatment and care, you can expect to live just as long as someone who doesn’t have HIV.


Giving yourself time

Everyone reacts differently when they find out they have HIV, but common feelings include shock, anger, fear or sadness. You may have questions about how you got the virus, and questions about what will happen to you.

All of these emotions and questions are natural. Learning more about HIV will help to answer your questions. You don’t have to manage on your own – having someone to talk to about your feelings can help. As well as healthcare staff, there are lots of HIV organisations, peer support groups and online forums that might provide you with support at this time.

Talking to a trusted friend or family member can also help you process your feelings. Read about sharing your HIV-positive diagnosis to get more information if you’re thinking about who you want to tell or how to tell them.

You may have good days and bad days, but give yourself time to get used to the news of your diagnosis and to learn about what it means for you.


Being honest with your healthcare professional

Be honest with your healthcare professional, they are not there to judge you, but help you make decisions so that they can plan and manage your care appropriately.

It’s important to share information such as your sexuality as well as your alcohol and drug use history, as these factors can put you at risk of developing drug resistance and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you have any underlying health conditions or STIs, it’s important to get treated for these too. Sometimes different treatments interact with each other, so your healthcare professional needs to know what other drugs you might be taking.


Do I need to start treatment?

Current treatment for HIV is not a cure, but it can keep HIV under control and this keeps your immune system strong.

The latest guidelines recommend that all people who are diagnosed with HIV should start treatment straight away.2

Once you start taking treatment, you will need to take it every day for life, so it’s important that you feel ready to start. Take your time to feel prepared and find out more about starting HIV treatment.


What happens now?

If you were tested in an HIV clinic, then you may be able to have your care in the same clinic. If you were tested somewhere else, they should make a referral to a specialist HIV clinic for you.

Your clinic may also offer you counselling, or will be able to put you in touch with a peer support group. It can help to have someone to talk to in confidence about what’s happening and how you are feeling.

You are not alone. Take your time to process how you’re feeling. Although finding out you have HIV is a big piece of news to come to terms with, remember that many people are living long, healthy and fulfilled lives with HIV.