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What to do when you are diagnosed HIV Positive

So you just went through the grueling process of getting tested, waiting for your results and now you just found out that you are HIV positive.  WTH and  What now?

A diagnosis of any kind can be mind altering and life shattering, so take this moment while reading this to first just breathe.  Inhale all the good energy and happiness you can find and then exhale out the negative thoughts and negative emotions that you need to get rid of.  You are still alive and will live many years to come.  We are all in this together and all going through it.

What are my first steps?

You  should consider reaching out to your sexual partners to prevent spreading the disease.  It is an extremely difficult but crucial step. 

First thing is first, after getting tested and receiving your diagnosis, you need to go check your numbers with a doctor and see if it is time for you to start Anti-retroviral therapy medication (ARV).  They will be checking your viral load (how much HIV you have in your body), and your T-Cells (CD4 count, cells that fight infection). 

  This process can take a while because you need to get prescribed the med and then you need to take it for about a week or two to see if you suffer from any extreme side effects. 

For example, the first treatment I was put on was Odefsey .  After two weeks of taking it,  it started to make me throw up religiously every morning so my doctor had to change it after I contacted her ,  about a month later which was unacceptable. 

If this happens to you, do not freak out.  There are  over 20 different HIV medications they can start you on,  one of them, or a combination of them  will work for you to get your numbers right.  

Also think about these additional steps……

While going through the medication process or after you should probably think about talking to a psychiatrist or joining a HIV support group.  While taking care of your physical body is important, it is also imperative to take care of your mental and emotional well-being especially after a diagnosis like this.  

When I was first diagnosed I stopped seeing my therapist and I was so angry and people could see I was angry and didn’t know why and I was just taking it out on everyone.  It wasn’t until I started  visiting my therapist again,  I started realizing what it was I was doing and lashing out and how I was treating people based on my anger and fear.  Maybe even consider telling a friend or loved one.

Now that you’ve gotten the medication process out of the way and you’re working on your mental stability it is time to begin going the extra mile.  Yes while the modern HIV medication is just one pill a day that can keep your numbers great  for a very long time there’s still things you can do to live a more comfortable and fulfilling life with HIV.  There is no reason why people living with HIV today cannot live as long or longer than people that we have diabetes or other conditions.  It is no longer the death sentence it used to be.

How can I go further?

You’re probably asking yourself how can I start to change my life.  You have either tried before and it has failed or you’ve never tried and you’re scared or something along those lines so what do you do?  In an earlier article I wrote, you probably saw two small steps you can begin in order to start altering your life and changing it for a more healthy lifestyle.  Small steps that will make great differences for you.

The first small step that anyone can start with and won’t interfere immensely in your life is by starting to drink more water everyday.  We all know that water is essential to us but we forget how much and throughout the busyness of our daily lives forget to replenish our water.   It is recommended that we, drink at least 64 Oz or more of water this is equivalent to 8 – 8 oz cups.

 This small step of drinking more water can demonstrate many benefits for you.  For example drinking water first thing when you wake up re-hydrates you and starts you off with a little boost of energy for the day.  Drinking water throughout the day will clean out your system and help detox you of any potential bad things within your body. 

It also helps maintain the homeostasis or the balance inside your body.  And drinking enough water helps keep your bones and joints functional and limber.  It is even said to keep a glass of water next to your bed so you can drink before and during the night.  

With HIV, we need to constantly drink water to help our liver and kidneys flush out the toxins that our medications might leave.  If you continue to forget set alarms every so often with a water break reminder. They even have water reminder and tracking apps to help get you started.

Other Tips to try….

The next piece of advice that you might remember from reading is to start performing a small morning wake up stretch or minor workout.   This does not have to be anything big and does not need to last longer than 1-3 minutes.  All you do is roll out of the bed and complete a little sun salutation or even some jumping jacks. 

This is just to help give your blood flowing, and your muscles warmed up to start your day.  This will also help give you a little boost of energy while waking up.  

A third step that you can incorporate in your life that goes hand-in-hand with the above is to complete a little stretch before going to bed.  The point of this stretch is to cool down your body stretch it out from the days busyness and tension within the body.  It also can  mentally calm yourself and helps to promote a better sleep. 

And going the Extra Mile….

Next I would advise that you start keeping a journal.  This journal will help you keep track of your progress and of your symptoms with the disease throughout time and how they improve and change. 

It is a great way to see what works for you and how you’re doing.  It is also a great method to use when you need to express your thoughts and don’t want to share with other people you can just jot them down privately.

My final advice to give for now is to start a workout regimen of some sort. Start slow at least twice a week for 30-60 minutes to begin and work your way up.  It is important to start maintaining your body more now then ever.