Living with HIV/AIDS
Living a long and healthy lifespan requires a lot of work on your part and may require changes to your lifestyle, that you actively manage your wellness and do self care. The reality is that living with HIV is not just about being on HIV treatment, it’s also about managing your overall health and emotional wellness. You’ll find that there are so many options available, both medical (ie. through healthcare and service providers) and non-medical to you and that you will find the solutions that work best for you. These options also include living life in other areas such as work or school that …
When treated, HIV is considered a manageable long-term infection – the key to health and wellness is to adhere to your medical treatment, and self-care, taking care of yourself and your needs. There are lots of areas to consider when living with HIV, here are some things to consider:
- When you are stressed or overwhelmed it is important to determine what you need, for instance taking a break or seeking support. Keep in mind that stress can affect your immune system and the body’s ability to cope with HIV infection.
- Educate yourself, many people fear the side effects of medications but being prepared for what to expect can make starting treatment much smoother.
- If you and your doctor decide that it is time to start medication, find out which medications your doctor is considering for you and learn about them.
- Complementary and alternative therapies such as vitamins, minerals, herbal therapies, homeopathy, and acupuncture are another option you could consider in discussion with your health care provider. You should consult someone trained in the use of natural therapies such as a naturopathic doctor, herbalist, or traditional Chinese medicine doctor, who is also familiar with HIV to ensure the treatment is safe for you.
- Consider reducing frequency or combination of substance use such as alcohol, tobacco, and/or recreational drugs.
- Keeping up with all scheduled appointments will help you to stay on track to being well. Even something as simple as a haircut may seem trivial, but can help keep your self esteem up.
Acceptance and Community
- Feeling a sense of community and getting involved can be empowering. Being around other individuals who are also positive may not only be a support network, but also remind you that you are not alone. There are many people out there living with HIV. In fact, close to 70,000 others in Canada have been diagnosed with HIV.
- There are many places you can meet others who are also HIV+. There are support groups that exist where you can talk about HIV in a group of others who are also positive. Not all community interaction has to be about HIV. Many AIDS Service Organizations (ASO’s) offer social events where you can go and just be in a group of your peers without having to think or talk about HIV. For instance, Black CAP offers groups for the newly diagnosed or long-term survivors.You may also choose to volunteer for an ASO or get involved in fundraising, or anything that gets you involved.