Receiving an HIV positive diagnosis is life changing. It can be overwhelming and scary. You will likely have a lot of questions and there will be a lot of information that you all of a sudden have to process.
Stop. Take deep breath. You will be okay. While HIV can be life changing the best thing you can do is reach out for support. HIV is a manageable illness and with effective treatment you can live well and be healthy if you have a strong support network and are getting good health care.
If you are newly diagnosed or have lived with HIV for years, having a good support network will never stop being important. A support network is a group of friends, peers, family or service providers that you feel close enough with, to comfortably turn to whenever you need a supportive conversation or a friendly smile. If a support network isn’t available to you or you feel like you might need extra support, another option is talking to a counselor/therapist or social worker. Until then, here are some things for you to consider:
- Black CAP’s support team can provide you with answers to some of your questions and provide one-on-one support and counselling
- Surround yourself with people that will make you feel better, not bring you down.
- You don’t need to tell everyone about your HIV status right away, or at all. Start with even just one or two people that you know will be supportive and help you while you make sense of everything.
- If you know others who are also HIV+ you may even want to talk to them. They’ve been where you are and may understand what you’re feeling.
We recognize that in Black communities there is a lot of stigma and discrimination against those living with HIV and it may be hard to find other who will accept your diagnosis. To support you, Black CAP offers a variety of support services including one-on-one counseling and support groups for people who are newly diagnosed with HIV. Call us to make an appointment at 416-977-9955.
Finding acceptance and a sense of community is an important step in living well with HIV. You don’t have to accept and come to terms with your diagnosis overnight – it may take you years to accept it and that’s okay. The important part is to work toward acceptance – it will make living well with HIV a lot easier.
Fortunately there are many highly effective treatments available to people living with HIV. One of the concerns many living with HIV/AIDS have is going on medication. Just because you have been diagnosed as being HIV+, it does not mean that you have to start medications right away. You and your doctor will make the decision whether or not to start you on medication based on how your body is responding to infection by looking at your CD4 counts and viral load.
For more information check out our Living with HIV page.