If you have become newly diagnosed with HIV, please consider reviewing these steps.
Steps to take in no particular order:
- Contact your Primary Care Physician and let them know about your recent diagnosis. Your PCP can recommend an Infectious Disease (or ID) specialist, who works with folks living with HIV
- The ID doctor will recommend beginning medication immediately. The sooner you start the medication the better.
- Educate yourself much more. Depending on your age, and also where you grew up, you may know a lot about HIV, or you may not. Either way, things change quickly in this field, so it can’t hurt to get the latest information. One of the best online resource for living with HIV is a website called thebody.com Another wonderful resource is the nation’s oldest and largest clearing house on HIV, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. They have a 24/7 hotline for anyone who’s HIV +, to talk about anything you’d like. Their toll free number is: 1-800-243-7692
- Consider beginning therapy. You will want to seek out a therapist who has a lot of knowledge and experience working with folks with HIV. Therapy can provide emotional support and even resources.
- Find an HIV support group, virtual or otherwise. Ideally the group has a mix of long term survivors and newer diagnosed folks. It’s important to see and talk with other folks who are also living with HIV.
- When you feel ready, tell friends and family (if that is safe for you to do), their support will be invaluable.
- Most importantly, you will likely live a normal life expectancy. Medication advances are keeping people with HIV healthy. Often medication can be as simple as 1 pill a day, or bi-annual injections, such as Sunclenca. Please do not fall into despair. There is so much help out there, and there is so much hope.
This blog post was written by Liza Linder, LCSW. To find out more about Liza, please see click on her name.