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I Just Found Out I Am HIV Positive

This is a pivotal point in your life. It’s normal for you to feel many kinds of feelings; fear, frustration, anger, confusion.

HOWEVER…

You DO NOT have to face this dilapidating disease by yourself. There are many people and organization available to assist and guide you on how to live a very PRODUCTIVE LIFE while managing HIV.

Keeping Yourself and Others Healthy

Below are some ideas to help keep you healthy. However, it is also important to consider the health of others when you know you are HIV-positive. To do that, it is important to make a commitment to yourself that you will not engage in sexual activity that could infect others; strive to let potential partners know your HIV status; and understand the behaviors that can infect others with HIV. You may wish to visit The Body’s section on “Reducing the Risk of Getting HIV from Sexual Activities” and “Reducing the Risk of Getting HIV From Injection Drug Use.” Taking care to protect others from HIV will make you feel good about yourself and help to support your overall sense of health and well-being.

Emotional Support

Strong emotional support can help you build good health and well-being because it addresses possible feelings of isolation or depression and helps you realize that others love and care about you regardless of HIV status. A good sense of well-being can also make it easier for you to engage in safe sex with others because, the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to care for and protect others. People have their own “families of choice” from which they receive emotional support.

Options for emotional support are:

  • friends, family, lovers, partners
  • other HIV positive people
  • one-on-one counseling
  • support group

In general, support groups meet on a regular basis to talk about common experiences. Support groups may be “closed” (once a group is formed, no new members are accepted), or “open” / drop-in (new members are allowed to join at any time). Support groups usually have a facilitator, who may be a professional or a member of the group.

To locate an organization that provides counseling, support groups or other types of emotional support in your area visit our HIV Hotline resource listing.

Medical Care

Once you find a doctor or clinic, your main objective is to get an evaluation of your general health and immune function. Many doctors do the following:

  • Administer lab tests to evaluate your immune system.
  • Determine if you have other diseases that might become problematic in the future, including syphilis, TB, hepatitis-B, MAI, and toxoplasmosis.

If you are already infected with one or more of these other illnesses, there may be treatments or prophylaxis available to prevent it from becoming more serious or recurring in the future. If you’re not already infected, doctors may be able to prevent future infection by:

  • administering vaccines. Many HIV positive people get a hepatitis-B vaccine and bacterial pneumonia vaccines, since contracting these diseases could be dangerous for immune suppressed people.
  • prescribing antiviral treatments and protease inhibitors that can help prevent or slow the progression of HIV disease.
  • scheduling regular checkups. Checkups will likely be scheduled every three to six months. Some people need more frequent check-ups, particularly when they are starting new antiviral drugs.

To learn more about HIV treatment related issues, visit The Body’s HIV Treatment Information Resources.

Healthy Habits

Most doctors advise HIV-positive people to improve their everyday habits, which gives their body a better chance of staying healthy. In general:

  • eat a balanced diet
  • get plenty of sleep
  • get regular exercise
  • reduce (or stop) the intake of alcohol and recreational drugs
  • avoid smoking

Healthy habits also include safer sex and needle cleaning to avoid other diseases and potential re-infection with HIV, which may accelerate the progression of the disease and/or reduce your treatment options.

Additional Resources

Check out You Are Not Alone provided by Body Positive.

Also check out Just Diagnosed provided by The Body.

Here are some local hospitals and organizations in the New York City area that can help:

  • Kings County Hospital (718) 245-2800
  • Woodhull Hospital & Mental Health Center (718) 963-8033
  • Brookdale Hospital Medical Center (718) 240-5028
  • Jacobi Medical Center (718) 918-4333
  • Montefiore Medical Center (718) 882-0232; (718) 920-2273; (718) 920-8542; (718) 920-2800
  • Bellvue Hospital (212) 562-1680
  • Harlem Hospital (212) 939-8229
  • St. Vincent’s Hospital (212) 604-1701
  • Brooklyn AIDS Task Force (718) 771-4997
  • New York City Dept. of Health – AIDS & HIV Line (800) 825-5448

On a national level you can contact the following hotlines for information and assistance:

You may also want to check out Visionary Health Concepts at www.freehivinfo.com/.

Visit the HIV/AIDS Resource Directory provided by African American Planning Commission.

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Many things have changed about HIV during the years. Most notably, the newer medications are SAVING lives. HIV Infection IS NO LONGER A CERTAIN DEATH SENTENCE. It is becoming a chronic illness that often can be managed through the medications and other means.

You will be making MANY LIFE CHOICES in the near future and these choices will DEFINITELY IMPACT not only the quality of your life, but actually HOW LONG YOU LIVE. Adherence to your medical treatment and the medications that are prescribed to you is the one most important task facing you, while other life habits and choices may also be altered.

Here are some hints to help you with your choices:

There are so many resources available today on the Internet. You do not have to fight this battle alone or in silence. Most of the programs available today were developed by persons living with the disease and those who understand the various issues that affect your daily life.

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Here are some web sites that can give you more information about being newly diagnosed.

  • The Center for AIDS: Hope and Remembrance Project, found on The Body, provides HIV-Positive people with a short, but powerful list of “25 Things You Should Know if You Are HIV-Positive.” http://www.thebody.com/cfa/top25/top25.html?m40h
  • Project Inform’s introductory packet is a great starting place for people newly diagnosed with HIV. Features articles and facts sheets on treatment strategies, doctor/patient relationships, and more. Also available in Spanish. www.projectinform.org/
  • GMHC I am… Newly diagnosed — This is a great web site which gives those who are newly diagnosed with guide on how to handle the first year. www.gmhc.org
  • Just Diagnosed with HIV? The Body’s starting place for people newly diagnosed with HIV. Articles on understanding HIV, choosing and working with a physician, first steps to treatment, telling others, and more. www.thebody.com/learning.html
  • You just found out you’re HIV Positive- This is a web site from UCSF which has real helpful connections to other web sites for those who are recently diagnosed. www.hivinsite.com
  • Positive living: A practical guide for people with HIV- Prepared by the Seattle and King County Department of Public Health. Also available in Spanish. http://db.jhuccp.org/mmc/media/usa14056.pdf
If your organization would like to be listed in our HIV/AIDS resource directory or if you know of an organization that should be listed, please feel free to add them as a resource. Thank you.
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