How Often Do You Need To Get Tested For Hiv
How often you should get tested depends on your personal practices, risk behaviours, and how often you engage in them.
For most people, it is important to have a full sexual health test at least once each year. This testing includes:
Even if you always use condoms, it is recommended you get tested annually as condoms dont provide 100% protection against HIV and STIs.
Immediate Reactions To News Of Hiv Positive Status In Africa
The literature on the immediate reactions to the initial diagnosis of HIV-positive status is also sparse, and a majority of what research there is comes from South Africa. Such findings overwhelmingly corroborate each other: immediately after being diagnosed HIV-positive, PLWHAs studied depict deep negative emotions. Visser et al. studied the phenomenon in South Africa, using a semi-structured interview of 293 pregnant women who were undergoing HIV test during antenatal care. On hearing the news, those who tested positive were shocked, and got frightened that they would be abandoned and discriminated against.
Fabianova enumerated several explanatory factors that unpacked her respondents reactions to their initial diagnoses of being HIV-positive. These included gender, level of preparedness of a client in the pre-testing session, and type of sexual relationship they were in. Others included levels of general knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and HIV/AIDS-related stigma in their community. Fabianova discovered that males responded to the initial HIV/AIDS diagnosis with anger, disbelief, and aggression. The females cried, got shocked, swallowed big lumps of air, saliva subconsciously, shook both their hands in refusal and blame the others almost immediately.
Theoretical framework: the hopelessness theory of depression
Take Time To Process The News
- Receiving an HIV diagnosis can be life changing. You may feel many emotionssadness, hopelessness, or anger.
- Allied health care providers and social service providers can help you work through the early stages of your diagnosis. They are often available at your health care providers office.
- Learn more about what a positive test result means.
How Can You Prevent Transmitting Hiv To Others
Its natural to be concerned about potentially transmitting HIV to someone else. Its important to know there are ways to prevent that. As noted above, the best thing you can do to prevent transmitting HIV through sex is to get on HIV treatment and get and keep an undetectable viral load. This is sometimes referred to as treatment as prevention or undetectable equals untransmittable .
It may take time to achieve an undetectable viral load. You will need to work with your provider to develop a treatment plan and manage it effectively. But almost everyone who takes HIV medicine as prescribed can achieve an undetectable viral load, usually within 6 months after starting treatment.
There are other ways to prevent transmitting HIV as well. Read our pages:
Well Do Everything We Can To Help You Get The Hiv Care You Need
Whether you need an HIV doctor, financial support, legal advice or emotional support, The Village Pharmacy can recommend the right clinic or organization for you. .
Get in touch with us anytime. We can help you better understand your medications, answer your questions about side-effects, and put you in touch with HIV support organizations and other service providers in Toronto.
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Who Do I Call
As you begin your journey of living with HIV it’s important to remember that there are lots of people out there who are ready to help if you ask for it.
Another project under the PT Foundation, known as MSMPOZ, is dedicated to providing support and assistance with People Living with HIV. Many of the volunteers and case workers at this project are also living with HIV and are happy to help the newly diagnosed navigate the public healthcare system, and clear up any questions or worries they might have about living with HIV.
MSMPOZ is especially helpful is you plan on pursuing treatment through a public hospital, as they can also help advise you on which Hospitals and Klinik Kesihatan’s would be best for you to go to, and can even help provide you an escort if you’d like to request it.
Mental Health Step #: Fight The Inner Critic
Whether you meditate or not, that idea of awareness — of monitoring and modifying your thoughts — is essential.
At some point, you’ll probably be in self-blame mode. Everyone does it — some of us do it a lot — and guess what: It’s really quite pointless. Obsessing about the past gets you nowhere. Observe that you’re doing it, note it, dismiss it, and move on to something else.
The human condition involves making mistakes. I’ve made them. You’ve made them. So does everyone, in some form or another. So, all we can conclude is: I’m human and you’re human. If one or more of those mistakes led to you living with HIV, can you fix those mistakes and reverse all their consequences? No. Can you get on with your life despite those mistakes, but now as a better person who is more aware of the world? Yes and yes. Focus on moving forward.
Its also human to be self criticaland to internalize other people’s perceptions and beliefs and then integrate those assumptions into one’s self-identity. For example, its common for many people who have tested HIV-positive to express that they may be acting like a hypochondriac. However, its best to do what you can to stay away from clinical labels and focus more on unlearning what you have “learned” from your environment.
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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 healthtalk.org has videos and articles about people’s experiences of living with HIV, including getting an HIV diagnosis.
How I Knew I Had Hiv: Sameer’s Story
Sameer already knew a lot about HIV before his diagnosis. He was sick for a few days and had a rash that made him suspect he might’ve been infected. Sameer, much like Dennis, sees his HIV diagnosis as a second chance at life. He gained a greater sense of value for life. As he learned to accept his health status, he joined a support group. The support group offered the encouragement he needed to move forward boldly.
“Really learning how to love yourself is one of the best things that came out of the experience,” Sameer says. HIV forces you to take care of yourself not just your health, but your whole lifestyle.
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Medical Step #: Stay On Your Meds
As people living with HIV, there is just one thing that we really have to get right when it comes to maintaining our physical health: Take our HIV drugs every day. That simple action will keep us healthy and prevent complications like developing a drug-resistant strain of the virus.
Taking your pill is a repetitive action. Some days you will forget: Did you do it already, or are you just remembering taking the same pills in the same exact place yesterday? That’s why, for me, a one-week pill box is critical. Fill it once a week, and you’ll never doubt again whether or not you’ve taken today’s dose. If a pill box isn’t your thing, you may find other methods to be a better fit: Some people use apps, calendar notifications, or reminder services , for example.
As a bonus, taking your HIV drugs every day will allow most people to fully suppress their virus, so that their HIV is undetectable. As the saying goes, “undetectable equals untransmittable,” or U=U. This means that, once your drugs have killed off enough virus so that viral load testing can’t detect HIV in your blood anymore , then that means you can’t transmit HIV to anyone during sex , regardless of whether you use a condom or another form of HIV prevention.
Knowing that you cannot transmit HIV during sex is a big relief. By staying on your meds, you too can proudly join the U=U community, and use that to motivate yourself even more to take your HIV drugs every day.
Whats The Next Step After Youre Diagnosed With Hiv
After you are diagnosed with HIV, its important to see a health care provider who can help you start medicine to treat HIV as soon as possible. Treatment with HIV medicine is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are.
HIV medicine can reduce the amount of HIV in your blood to an undetectable levela level so low that a standard lab test cant detect it. People with HIV who take HIV medicine exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can stay healthy and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.
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There Will Be Scheduled Visits
Once youve been diagnosed, your doctor will need to see you regularly. These visits will be necessary to follow up on how youre feeling and how well your medications are working.
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Since HIV has some serious complications, your doctor will want to look for early signs of illnesses such as pneumocystis pneumonia, thrush, cryptococcal meningitis, tuberculosis, and lymphoma.
Reducing Hiv Risks From Chemsex And Drug Use
- Inject drugs.
- Forget to take your HIV medications.
- Are taking PreP it can be less effective if it is mixed with other drugs.
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How I Knew I Had Hiv: Stories By Real People Living With Hiv
For the past couple of years, we’ve featured our friends in a series called Tales of Triumph. Each story shows brave people sharing how they knew they had HIV and their stories about finding inspiration, hope, and support.
Everyone’s experience is different, and that’s important because NO ONE symptom just shows up to indicate that you might have HIV. In fact, most people feel no symptoms at all prior to finding out. That is why getting tested is so important. In the beginning, it can be frightening, but these individuals overcame their fears and have triumphed.
What If I Need Help Dealing Emotionally With My Diagnosis
A positive diagnosis can be quite a shock. You might begin to question your future and start reliving your past sexual behaviour. This is perfectly normal and its natural for you to start thinking ‘What if?’ and ‘If only’.
It might be worth getting some help with your mental wellbeing and coming to terms with having HIV. You can access counselling with one of our trained counsellors, face- to-face or online. You can also call our helpline, THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 for more immediate support.
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Hiv Is Detected With A Blood Test
Blood tests are the most common and reliable tests for HIV. The virus is detected by taking a sample of your blood either with a conventional blood test or a rapid test .There is a short period of time between exposure to HIV and the ability for tests to detect HIV or its antibodies. This is often referred to as the ‘window period’ between 2 and 12 weeks.
Most tests used in Australia can detect HIV as early as 2 to 4 weeks after infection.
If your blood test shows that HIV or its antibodies are present, you are HIV-positive.
If you have no antibodies in your blood you are HIV-negative. Sometimes negative results might also mean you are in the window period, so you might need a follow-up blood test to make sure.
How I Knew I Had Hiv: Cederick’s Story
Cederick was 24 years old and away on vacation in Florida when things took a turn. He wasn’t eating like normal and felt something was off. He described feeling like his brain was “on fire.” He went to the ER, and the doctors suspected it was lymphoma. The doctors did more blood work, and Cedrick came back to Cleveland. Once back home, the doctors called and told him he didn’t have lymphoma but instead was positive for HIV. Cederick told his auntie. He described the event as coming out of the closet twice: sharing his sexuality and HIV status. Thankfully, she listened and supported him. After he connected with his doctor, he started his meds. The same doc suggested Positive Peers.
He enjoys using the calendar, reading the blogs, and connecting to his support group with the app. His biggest challenge at first was staying on top of the medication. He used the medication reminder, set timers, and worked to beat the timer every day.
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Mental Health Step #: Breathe
I AM OK! I WILL BE OK!
Come back to that concept, again and again. Why? Because it is true. Would you have wished for the current situation? No. Is it easy? No. Is it reasonable to be in turmoil? Yes.
BUT: Is your medical prognosis good? Absolutely! Will you get through this and be fine? YES!
Take things one step at a time, one day at a time, one hour at a time. Breathe. There is no need to deal with everything at once. But take some small steps. Congratulate yourself for those steps.
The one thing that is non-negotiable is getting on treatment. For the rest, you can take these steps gradually. This is a big change, and you will take some time to integrate it into your self-image in a positive way. Don’t be in a rush, but encourage and celebrate small advances in your thinking about HIV.
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.
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Practical Step #: Get A Pharmacy
Many insurance companies will assign your HIV medication prescription to something called a specialty pharmacy. These specialty pharmacies handle prescriptions that are particularly expensive, or manage situations where there is a greater concern about people staying on regular therapy.
In theory, specialty pharmacies are meant to pay more attention to ensuring that you get your drugs regularly and on time. In practice, I found them to be an extra level of bureaucracy that made it more, not less, likely that I would miss out on some of my doses. In addition, they will only deliver via mail order, which can raise issues around confidentiality or deliveries being stolen.
Be aware that, for most insurance companies, you have the option of transferring your prescriptions from the specialty pharmacy they recommend to a local neighborhood pharmacy. Maybe that raises more issues around confidentiality for you. But, in my experience, the local pharmacy was extremely professional, and it provided far more personalized and less complicated service than the specialty pharmacy. Pick whichever option is most comfortable for you.
Where Do I Go
Before deciding where to go for treatment, you’ll need to first decide whether you’d like to go through public or private healthcare.
All Malaysian Citizens are eligible for free HIV treatment through the public healthcare system .
Private healthcare is another option to consider also. Though private services have some additional costs, they are also generally faster and allow for more freedom in terms of consulting with your doctor and the tests that you do.
As an NGO managed clinic, CHCC currently offers the cheapest HIV testingand treatment services in Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore, we also have equipment to carry out CD4 counts and viral load counts in-house, allowing us to give same day results to clients who do these tests with us . Our doctors are also highly experienced at dealing with HIV at every stage of infection.
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Factors That Facilitated Transitioning To Accept Hiv
For the few respondents who showed resignation towards the experiences of their new HIV-positive diagnoses, there was no need for transitioning to accepting an HIV-positive self. Two of these respondents who readily embraced the new HIV-positive diagnoses said they already knew persons who were HIV-positive and were taking antiretroviral medications :
I realised I was not the only victim many people are also victims .
Two others said they already had comorbidities from AIDS and started treatment right after diagnoses:
I was ill for a long time so when I was told about it I only continued to take medications.
Another participant thought sickness is inevitable and thus did not need to worry about such diagnosis.
Nearly one-third of the respondents whose experiences of the new HIV-positive diagnoses were negative gave no response regarding what influenced their transitioning to accepting their new HIV-positive diagnoses. They mostly felt uncomfortable/reluctant talking about it. The rest mentioned what facilitated their transitioning more spontaneously and/or more readily after some amount of probing. The vast majority of the rest who experienced negative reactions said the most important help with their transitioning was counselling from health workers who encouraged them to initiate and continue treatment, with the assurance that if they did so, they would survive the infection.
For one of these, her mother-in-law was the main person who empathised with her: