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How To Live Positively With Hiv

Take Care Of Your Mental Health

Living Positively with HIV and AIDS

Stress, medication, and HIV itself can affect your mood. In turn, feeling low can make it hard to stick with your treatment plan. But you may get sick if you donât take your medicine the right way.

Tell your doctor if you feel depressed, anxious, or have any other mood problems. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. And treatment can ease your symptoms.

  • Stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing

Living Positively With Hiv

May 7, 2019

I recently boarded a plane for a 7,000 mile trip from Uganda to Washington, DC. It was my first visit to the U.S. and the longest flight Ive ever taken. But it wasnt my greatest journey. That began years ago, almost as far back as I can remember

I dont remember being born, of course. That was in Kamwokya the slum in Kampala, Uganda where I grew up. And I was too young to remember watching my mother weaken and eventually succumb to a debilitating disease when I was five. I also dont fully remember my father telling me she had lung cancer, but for years I loathed the disease for taking her from me.

I remember other things though. I remember bearing the pain of life without a mother. And I remember the day when I learned about the true circumstances of her death, the day my journey began. I was 14.

My twin brother came to me that day, terrified, because he had unprotected sex with a classmate. I told him to go to the local health center to get tested for HIV. But he was so afraid to go alone that I decided to get tested too, even though I was a virgin and couldnt possibly be infected. I remember how relieved I felt when his results came back negative.

And I remember the moment my life changed forever: when my results came back positive.

And for the next three years, thats all I wanted to do. I tried all possible means to get rid of my life.

What Do I Do If I Find Out I Have Hiv

Millions of people have HIV youre definitely not alone. Most people get at least one STD in their lifetime, and having HIV or another STD is nothing to feel ashamed of or embarrassed about. It doesnt mean youre dirty or a bad person.

Finding out that you have HIV can be really upsetting. You might feel mad, embarrassed, scared, or ashamed at first. But youll probably feel better as time goes by having a good support system and getting counseling really helps. There are medicines you can take to help you stay healthy, and lots of ways to avoid giving HIV to anyone you have sex with. The reality is, people with HIV can be in relationships, have sex, and live normal lives by taking a few precautions.

Although theres no cure for HIV, there are medicines that help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. HIV treatment called antiretroviral therapy lowers the amount of virus in your body . This does two things:

  • Slows down the effects of HIV in your body, which keeps you healthy.

  • Lowers or even stops your chances of giving HIV to sexual partners.

Some people on ART have such a small amount of virus in their body, they cant transmit HIV to their sexual partners at all.

Even if youre feeling totally fine right now, see a doctor as soon as you can so you can talk about the best ways to stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions hotline can help you find a doctor near you who specializes in treating HIV: 1-800-CDC-INFO .

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Health Issues And Aging With Hiv

People aging with HIV share many of the same health concerns as the general population aged 50 and older: multiple chronic diseases or conditions, the use of multiple medications, changes in physical and cognitive abilities, and increased vulnerability to stressors. In addition, while effective HIV treatment has decreased the likelihood of AIDS-defining illnesses among people aging with HIV, many HIV-associated non-AIDS conditions occur frequently in older persons with HIV, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal disease, and cancer. These conditions are likely related to a number of interacting factors, including chronic inflammation caused by HIV. Researchers are working to better understand what causes chronic inflammation, even when people are being treated with ART.

HIV and its treatment can also have effects on the brain. Researchers estimate that between 25 and 50% of people with HIV have HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder , a spectrum of cognitive, motor, and/or mood disorders categorized into three levels: asymptomatic, mild, and HIV-associated dementia. Researchers are studying how HIV and its treatment affect the brain, including the effects on older people living with HIV.

HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day

Fulfilling Your Own Needs

Taking care of yourself when living with HIV
  • 1 Its normal to feel that sharing your own emotions with your HIV-positive loved one would burden them. However, you shouldnt bottle up your feelings, even if youre uncomfortable discussing them with your loved one.XResearch source
  • You could talk to another friend or relative about your feelings. Just be sure not to disclose your loved one’s status to others without their permission.
  • Talk to a counselor if you dont want to disclose your loved ones positive diagnosis to friend or relative.
  • 2Think about seeing a counselor or joining a support group. While many people who are HIV-positive lead full, normal lives, learning about your loved ones status is a lot to process. A counselor can help you sort through complicated feelings. You could also look for a local support group for people with HIV-positive family members.XResearch source
  • It might comforting to talk to other people who are going through similar circumstances.
  • Sometimes, people find out uncomfortable truths when they learn that a loved one is HIV-positive. You might have learned that your partner was unfaithful or that your best friend uses intravenous drugs. For these difficult situations, seeing a counselor is particularly important.
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    Plhiv And Prevention Of Hiv Transmission

    In Study Session 25, you learnt about preventative measures that individuals whether they know their HIV status or not may take into consideration in order to reduce risks of HIV infection via the sexual route, and by direct contact with objects contaminated with infected blood. In this section, we are going to discuss specific issues that relate to sexual transmission of HIV, and to a lesser extent transmission by contact with infected blood, in the context of HIV treatment, care and support provided to PLHIV.

    Patients who are on antiretroviral therapy should be informed that HIV transmission to other people is still possible, even if treatment has been effective and they are informed by health workers that they have undetectable levels of HIV in their blood. Very low levels of HIV can still be present in the blood and/or sexual fluids of PLHIV undergoing ART, and these may be sufficient for the virus to infect another person.

    29.2.1 Re-infection with HIV

    Secondly, a PLHIV may be re-infected with another type of HIV that is already resistant to the ARV drugs they are taking, which may ultimately lead to treatment failure. The consequence of ART failure of first-line drugs is replacement with second-line ARV drugs, which may be less effective in controlling HIV infection . Thus, it is always advisable for PLHIV not only to minimise risks of HIV transmission to other people, but also to avoid re-infection by HIV from another person.

    Safer sex practises

    Telling People You’re Hiv Positive

    Talking about what you’re going through can help, but think carefully about who you tell about your diagnosis.

    Work out why you want to tell them and think of the potential consequences .

    If you decide to tell them, work out how you will answer any questions they might ask, such as “How did you get it?”

    Find out more about telling people you’re HIV positive in the living with HIV section.

    If your family or partner would like support to help them cope with your diagnosis, they can also contact HIV organisations.

    You might also want to meet other people with HIV. Finding out how other people have coped with a positive diagnosis, and hearing about their experiences of living with HIV, can be helpful for some people.

    There are support groups for people who have recently found out they’re HIV positive. Your HIV clinic, a GP or a helpline can let you know what’s available in your area.

    There are also support groups for specific people, such as young people, women, gay people, people from Africa and people who are HIV negative and have a partner who is HIV positive.

    The website has videos and articles about people’s experiences of living with HIV, including getting an HIV diagnosis.

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    Taking Care Of People Living With Hiv/aids

    This manual is concerned with the food and nutrition components of home care for persons with HIV/AIDS. Nutritional needs must be seen in context with other needs. As explained in the introduction, nutrition education should be provided alongside other components that contribute to well-being, including health care, economic and social support and, especially, positive living. This chapter summarizes some key general social support messages that are important to ensure that nutrition education is effective for both people with HIV/AIDS and their carers.

    Caring For A Person With Hiv/aids

    how to live positively with hiv (hiv positive living)?

    The carer looking after a person with HIV/AIDS may be a member of the family or, if the person lives alone, a neighbour, relative or friend. It is not easy to care for a person with HIV/AIDS and whoever grows, prepares, cooks food and serves it to a person with HIV/AIDS needs support. The task involves meeting the needs of the sick person and balancing these with the needs of other members of the family. Too much help may be overprotective and take away the dignity, independence and self-respect of the person with HIV/AIDS while too little help may not provide the support that is needed to ensure that the person eats well and has the strength to resist infection.

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    Food Safety For People Living With Hiv

    Because people living with HIV may be at greater risk for food-borne illness, they should protect themselves by following these tips:

    • Dont eat raw eggs, raw meats, or raw seafood
    • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them
    • When cutting up raw meats to cook, use a separate surface
    • Put leftover cooked foods into the refrigerator right away after eating meals
    • Always wash your hands and cooking tools with soap
    • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods you shouldnt eat with the medication youre taking

    What We Want To Achieve

    • To provide a safe, private and comfortable meeting place
    • To provide social and emotional support for PLHIV and by PLHIV
    • To provide the latest information on treatment, care and support for PLHIV
    • To provide living skills and other skills through workshops, classes and programmes
    • To empower PLHIV to make and implement decisions affecting their lives
    • Lobby against discrimination and advocate for easy accessibility to treatment
    • To reduce stigma and discrimination against People living with HIV by creating awareness and understaning to our stakeholders, the public, and the media

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    New Guidance On Couples Hiv Testing And Counselling

    In addition to correct and consistent use of condoms, counsellors may suggest that the HIV-positive partner take antiretroviral drugs, regardless of his or her immune status. Studies show that this can both keep the positive partner healthier for longer, and reduce the risk they will pass the virus to their loved one. This finding prompted WHO to issue new guidance on couples HIV testing and counselling in April 2012 including antiretroviral therapy for treatment and prevention in serodiscordant couples.

    In addition to Zambia, which has recommended early ARVs for the positive partner in a serodiscordant couple since 2010, other countriesincluding Canada, China, Kenya and many in western Europecurrently recommend or are considering the use of ARVs to reduce HIV transmission in serodiscordant couples.

    Positive Connections: Leading Information And Support Groups For Adolescents Living With Hiv

    Living with HIV: Steps to Better Health

    Positive Connections: Leading Information and Support Groups for Adolescents Living with HIV is a unique guide that provides facilitators with background information about the needs of ALHIV, tips for starting an adult-led information and support group, and 14 sessions to follow in a group setting. The goal of the guide is to help ALHIV:

    • Understand their HIV diagnosis and participate in the management of their care and treatment.
    • Learn that many young people live healthy and productive lives while living with HIV.
    • Identify strategies for positive living including adhering to their treatment regimen.
    • Prevent transmitting HIV to others avoid re-infection consistently use family planning to prevent unintended pregnancy and learn how to avoid infecting their babies, if they want to start a family.
    • Develop life skills such as understanding their emotions, communicating effectively, dealing with stigma and discrimination, making decisions about their future, and improving their quality of life.

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    Plhiv Should Seek Regular Medical Care

    PLHIV should be given information about when and how to seek medical care. These situations may include their regular scheduled visits at the health centre or hospital, or new appointments at your health post or at the clinic when they feel ill.

    Attending regular scheduled visits at the health centre or hospital helps PLHIV to monitor their health status. For example, all patients on ART will be assigned a clinic appointment schedule. This schedule will include regular follow-ups and medication refills at the health centre and hospital, regardless of whether the patient feels healthy or not. Patients should be encouraged to strictly adhere to all appointments at the health centre and hospital. A way you can help them is by reminding them when their next appointment is scheduled.

    Patients should attend a clinic promptly and regularly during episodes of ill health. Early treatment of infections can prevent further illnesses and slow down progression to AIDS. During your regular visits or appointments, you should ask PLHIV to describe any new symptoms they may have experienced since your last visit, and encourage them to get prompt treatment for any health problems that cannot be managed at home or at your health post. If this is the case, refer them to the health centre without delay.

    How Will I Know If I Get Hiv

    The only way you can know that you have the HIV virus is by getting tested. Although you may experience symptoms, there is no way of knowing that you have HIV unless you get tested. In fact, some people who have HIV go for years without experiencing any symptoms. So if you have had unprotected sex and you think that maybe you could be a risk, go get tested even if you are not experiencing any symptoms.

    An HIV diagnosis can be done using:

    • Antibody screening test

    This test is also referred to as the ELISA test and it is used to check for a specific HIV-Ab in the body.

    Usually, your doctor will take a small sample of your blood for testing. Some ELISA tests check fluids or urine, but a blood test provides more accurate results. It is possible to get a negative result even when you are actually positive when you take a fluid or urine test. This is because the antibodies in fluids are few.

    • Antibody/Antigen combination test

    The antibody/antigen combination test can detect the HIV virus 20 days after infection. With the antibody screening test, you would have to wait about 8 weeks to get tested if you want to get accurate results.

    This test checks for an HIV antigen called core p24 antigen, which is a protein that is found in the virus. This protein shows up 3 weeks after you become infected. The test also checks for the HIV antibodies much like the antibody screening test.

    • RNA Test
    • Home Test Kits

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    If You’re Feeling Depressed

    It’s normal to feel as though you’re not coping at times, to stop enjoying being with friends and family, or to feel sad or have trouble sleeping.

    But if these feelings last a long time or you continue to feel overwhelmed by them, you may have depression.

    Get help as soon as possible as you may need treatment.

    Your HIV clinic, local mental health services or GP can all help you.

    Living Together As A Serodiscordant Couple

    Living Positively with HIV

    Life was initially tougher for Godfrey and Paulina Mtonga of Lusaka, Zambia. The couple have now been married for 32 years. They have 11 children and 8 grandchildren. In 1994, they went for HIV testing together. Godfrey was positive and Paulina negative.

    CDC Zambia/Karrin Parker

    “The first week was very bad for us,” Godfrey recalls. “The counsellor came to visit us the very next day.” The counsellor kept coming, and the couple decided to stay together. They continued to have a sexual relationship, using condoms from a nearby clinic. Godfrey started taking antiretroviral treatment in 2002. Pauline has remained HIV-negative.

    Godfrey Mtonga’s advice to everyone is to get tested. “If you are positive, love each other and take your medicine at the right time. We have lived with our status as a discordant couple for the past 18 years because we support each other.”

    Some countriessuch as Kenya, Rwanda, Thailand, Zambia and othershave already introduced HIV testing and counselling for couples with a view to helping them support one another. Couples testing can be provided as part of pregnancy care or other health services, in peoples’ homes and as part of outreach testing in communities, as well as in voluntary testing and counselling sites.

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