read personal stories of people living with hiv
No one ever suggested any of this would be easy. If you need time and space to think your situation through, take it. Whatever you're going through is natural. How you deal with this news is up to you. HIV is threatening your existence, so it's alright to be angry. If you are scared, express your fears. Don't be hard on yourself and don't force yourself to be strong if you don't want to be.
Stress is natural and affects your emotions. It can help you to deal with some situations. However, excessive stress can cause physical symptoms, it can damage your immune system and make you ill. Take stock and find ways of managing the stress in your life. Find ways to relax and recharge your batteries. Listen to your body; if you are tired, rest and you'll be better for it.
Choose things that work for you
HIV can bring anxieties. One way of tackling these are through getting information, by learning about your condition, gaining confidence in it, in yourself and making informed choices for your future.
"I am a 29 year old gay Latino who found out he has been HIV + since '97. Back then I, like everyone around me, saw this as a death sentence. I have come to learn that this not true. After my diagnosis, I started looking for all the information I could find on HIV. I felt that right off the bat I needed to know what I was up against. I also needed to make sure my family and close friends knew what was going on in my life. HIV is not something people can nor should they go through alone. You need people to win this fight, whether it's family, friends or a support group, people are the key." - Juan
Alternatively, you might choose to ignore the diagnosis (but remember it won't go away) and just carry on with your life. It's your life, you choose.
You don't have to do anything. If you don't find that taking control works for you, fine. That's just as valid as any other approach.
Do what works for you.
Receiving a positive diagnosis, even if you were anticipating the result, is often very unsettling. As a result some people just accept the information they are given without really understanding it, or forget to ask questions essential for their peace of mind. However, being well-informed about HIV and related issues can be vital and doctors, support organisations and other people living with HIV can all provide both advice and information.
Ultimately all decisions relating to your life will still be made by you, so if you are unclear about anything, for example the different types of HIV drugs or the side-effects of antiretroviral drug treatment, then ASK. Although the issues HIV raises can be surrounded by jargon, being assertive and getting informed can be as useful as any treatment.
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