What happens if you are positive?
March 2, 2012
The most important thing to remember is that your life is not over. You are exactly the same person you were before you got the test result. You now have the knowledge and the opportunity to fight HIV and help yourself stay healthy. But the thing you must keep absolutely in your mind as you begin this process is that you are going to live on.
It may take a few days for your status to seem real and for you to become ready for the next steps. That's no problem. The first thing you'll probably want to do is to talk to a doctor or medical professional. If you got your results at a public clinic, trained health professionals or counselors are usually provided for post-test counseling to provide emotional support, provide information on HIV and AIDS and offer the next options. These options will include further testing to assess the stage of the disease. Depending on the stage, they may suggest you start on antiretroviral treatment. It is important to ask questions and get as much information as possible while you are talking to them. Take notes; it will be difficult to remember it all later.
You should also consider behavioral changes which may preserve your health and slow the progression of HIV. These include safer sex practices to protect your partner or if you are female, possible future children from infection. If you still have questions, online research is usually very useful. You'll need this information to make informed decisions about your future later on.
If the medical professionals available are not trained in HIV counseling, trained counselors and doctors are available in social hygiene clinics for free. If you wish, you may also take your test result to a public clinic and take a confirmatory test. This will give you the certainty that your result is correct.
How to deal with emotions
The most important thing to know is that your status will probably have much more of an immediate emotional impact than anything else. It is normal to feel many strong emotions when you receive your result. These emotions are natural. Don't rush yourself. It is important to educate yourself during this time; knowledge of what will happen next and what you can expect may remove some of your fear or worry.
Whom should you tell?
You should tell your sex partner(s), and they should get tested too. Many people are uncomfortable telling others about their status and it may be one of the hardest parts in this process. Don't worry. That's normal. While treatment and diagnosis are straight forward, emotionally coping with being HIV positive is harder. It may take time before you are comfortable with your status and are willing to tell people.