Living with HIV may seem like a daunting experience at times. Finding out that you’re HIV positive can be a shocking experience, and you may be going through some difficult feelings and looking for a lot of answers to your questions. But remember that you’ve got support all around you! Your doctor, counsellor and loved ones are there to help you through it all.
A positive HIV diagnosis may change your life, but it will not stop you from living it as best as you can. With treatment and support, you will be able to live just as healthily and happily as everyone else.
COMING TO TERMS
Before anything else, it’s very important to give yourself time to process the information. Each person will have a different reaction to it, but it’s likely that you’ll feel angry, shocked, confused or scared – remember that these feelings are a natural part of the process.
Learning more about HIV will help answer any questions you may have. Your first point of contact should always be your doctor or a counsellor, who can guide you through all the intricacies. Remember to keep it real – being honest about your feelings and concerns is important to making the best out of your situation. Find a doctor or counsellor near you with our Clinic Finder.
There will be good times and bad times, but remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. Take time and make the effort to understand and come to terms with your diagnosis – it may be difficult, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
TALKING ABOUT YOUR STATUS
You may be worried about telling people you’re HIV positive – that’s a very normal concern for many people, especially if they’re newly diagnosed.
Talking about your situation with people who understand what you’re going through is an important part of processing your feelings. Aside from your doctor or counsellor, there are also organisations, community support groups, and online forums that can give you support.
You may choose to talk openly about being HIV positive with friends and family, or disclose your status to a small group of people you can trust. That’s entirely your decision, and you should never feel pressured to talk about it.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Taking HAART: If you’ve just been diagnosed HIV positive, the first thing that should be in order is starting treatment as soon as possible.
Once your condition has been assessed, your doctor will immediately put you on highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Read more about HAART here.
Diet, exercise: Keeping tabs on what you eat and how you stay active is important not just for HIV positive people, but for everyone else too. Because everyone else does it, it’ll be easy for you too!
As a general rule, your diet should be balanced and nutritious, without too much sugar, salt, fat or additives. Keep what you eat in check with regular exercise – not only does it keep your body healthy or makes you look good naked, but it also keeps your mind calm.
Maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean eating organic produce or splurging on a gym membership. Making these changes can be as simple as paying more attention to what you eat every day, keeping yourself hydrated, and adding simple physical activities into your daily routine.
If you’re having difficulties such as dietary problems, other health conditions or medical side effects that make it difficult to eat or exercise, it’ll be helpful to discuss this with your doctor.
Alcohol and drug use: While alcohol or recreational drugs do not interact with your HAART medication, you must remember that drinking alcohol and using drugs can weaken your immune system and make your treatment less effective
A big part of staying healthy involves looking after your mental wellbeing, no matter your HIV status.
It’s a tough world out there, and we know you’re working hard chasing your dreams. But when life comes at you too fast, take a break – it’s important to take a step back once in a while, to decompress, and to make yourself the star of your own show.
If you’re living with HIV, it can take a huge toll on your mental wellbeing, and it may take some time for you to adjust. But you don’t have to do it alone – talking about it with people you trust, other people living with HIV, or a support group can do wonders when the going gets tough.
Some may turn to alcohol or recreational drugs as a way to cope or escape. While it may be fun for a short while, their long-term effects on your mental wellbeing can be very dangerous. If you’re struggling with psychological issues arising from substance or drug use, it’s very important that you have an honest conversation about it with a doctor or counsellor. They can advise you on ways to curb your substance consumption and to keep your mental wellbeing in check.
Acknowledging any issues you may have with your mental wellbeing is the first step to a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. Talk it out with a doctor, counsellor, therapist, or anyone you can trust – you’ll be able to see things more clearly when you have a different perspective.
Living with HIV can sometimes present its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to navigating its social aspects.
At times, you may face stigma and discrimination regarding your status. Therefore, it’s important to know your rights – remember that your wellbeing and dignity is protected by law.
No matter what your situation is, you don’t have to brave it on your own – there’s always someone out there who understands and is ready to help. Counselling services that specialize in community and HIV/AIDS issues are available here:
TAKE CHARGE PrEP Points
T: +6017 2504 828
Counselling sessions by appointment
Community Health Care Clinic, PT Foundation
2-1, Jalan Haji Salleh, Sentul, 51100 Kuala Lumpur
T: +60 3 4051 3611
WhatsApp: +60 11 2143 457
Counselling sessions by appointment
MSM POZ Program, PT Foundation
No. 7C/1 Jalan Ipoh Kecil
Off Jalan Raja Laut
50350 Kuala Lumpur
T: +603 4044 4611
Telephone Counselling Program, PT Foundation
T: +603 4044 5455
Mondays, 7.30PM to 9.30PM