What does HIV positive means ?
If I test positive, does that mean that I will die?
No, it does not. If treated swiftly and consistently, the HIV virus is manageable and NOT Life threatening.
Testing positive for HIV means that you now carry the HIV virus in your body. With the right treatment, you can keep the virus in check. This can substantially increase your longevity and quality of life against HIV/AIDS.
How hard is it to live with HIV?
With the right treatment and care, you can easily Live As Long As someone without HIV. Here’s how you can look after yourself and stay healthy:
- Check-in with your healthcare professional regularly
- Adhere to antiretroviral treatment (ARTs) for HIV
- Eat healthy
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid alcohol or drug use
- Manage stress
- If you feel the need, get mental health support (or counselling)
What is the medical treatment available for HIV/AIDS? How long can I live with this treatment?
HIV treatment involves taking medicines that slows the progression of the virus in your body. HIV is a type of virus (retrovirus), and the drugs used to treat it are called anti-retroviral (ARV). These drugs are always given in combination with other ARVs; and this combination therapy is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. People with HIV should start ART as soon as possible. ART cannot cure HIV, but ART helps people with HIV live long, healthy lives.
To protect your health, it is important to get on and stay on HIV treatment immediately. HIV treatment is important because it helps your body fight HIV. This “treatment adherence” is essential to manage HIV (to prevent infections or complications).
If left untreated, HIV attacks your immune system and can allow different types of life-threatening and opportunistic infections and cancers to develop. If your CD4 cell count falls below a certain level, you are at risk of getting an opportunistic infection. Your health care provider may prescribe medicines to prevent certain infections.
Are there specialist doctors for HIV treatment? Where/Who?
Yes. There are certified infectious disease physicians and HIV specialists in most cities. Also, most doctors learn about the pathogenesis of HIV, how to diagnose and treat it.
If you are HIV positive, then you can get in touch with the nearest ART centre at a government hospital in your city. They would be able to put you in touch with friendly doctors in and outside of the hospital. The Government of India provides Free Treatment for HIV. You can visit your nearest ART centre and collect free Medicine from there. Many NGOs across the country help with finding doctors and recommending treatment. In addition, the National AIDS Toll-Free Helpline (NACO) is 1097. You can also message us at Safe Masti.
In addition to treating your HIV, your doctor, health care provider or local AIDS service organization can also help you access health care and other support services that can help you stay well, physically and emotionally.
What medical action must I take if I have tested positive for HIV? Is this sequence non-negotiable?
Testing positive for HIV can overwhelm you with questions and concerns. It’s important for you to remember that HIV is a manageable disease that can be treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART cannot cure HIV, but they help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
The first step after testing HIV positive is to see a counsellor at the HIV testing centre or a doctor (even if you don’t feel sick). The counsellor will help you reconfirm your HIV status to rule out any inaccuracies with the tests, and then confirm your eligibility for the treatment services and free ARVs.
Prompt medical care and treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the best way for you to stay healthy. The medical professional will conduct an HIV baseline evaluation, which includes a review of the person’s health and medical history, a physical exam, and lab tests:
- Determine how far a person’s HIV infection has progressed. Treatment with ART can prevent HIV from advancing to AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection.
- Evaluate whether the person is ready to start lifelong treatment with ART.
- Collect information to decide which medicines to start.
Things you can do to help health care provider in charting out a suitable treatment plan for you:
- Share information on all prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.
- Any issues that can make adherence difficult (personal habits, difficulties, responsibilities etc.).
- Your daily schedule at home and at work.
Discuss medication adherence at each appointment with your healthcare provider. If you find the regimen too complicated, let your healthcare provider know. Discuss any issues that are causing you to skip medicines.