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What to do when you find out you are HIV positive

By Faeza
23 November 2016

SO you went for HIV testing and tested HIV positive. There is so much going on in your mind. You probably have questions like; am I going to die? Will I have children? Who do I tell? What is next? That's exactly what happened to me in 1996 when I was diagnosed. I thought it was the end of the world and I even contemplated suicide several times. Let

me ease your mind, you are not going to die. HIV is not a death sentence. With proper adherence to medication and change of lifestyle, you are going to live many more wonderful and productive years. So don’t press the panic button just yet.

BOOSTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

During the post-counselling, your CD4 count and viral load will be checked. The CD4 count is the amount of defensive cells called lymphocytes, which are part of your immune system. The viral load determines the amount of the virus that is in your body. The results will determine which treatment you need to take. If your CD4 count is above 500, you will start taking prophylaxis, a treatment that is a combination of vitamins and antibiotics that will strengthen your immune system against minor illnesses and fever. Please note that the prophylactic treatment is not medicine for your HIV. If your CD4 count is below 500, then ARVs will be given.

SIDE EFFECTS OF ARVS

Most medications come with side effects regardless of what illness you have. Side effects

are your body's reaction to medicine and your body getting used to it. ARVs have the following side effects; diarrhoea, nausea, mild headaches and some itchiness. These days people who are taking ARVs only have to take one pill compared to when I started taking them, where I had to take five pills a day. The pill has very limited side effects, unlike the previous ARVs, which had severe side effects.

CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE

The new ARV pill is so highly improved that many people don’t experience side effects at

all. However, if you do experience them, they will only last between two and six weeks. If the side effects become severe, consult the clinic or your doctor, who may give you alternative medication. While many people rely on ARVs to suppress the virus, but there is an important need to change your lifestyle as well. You have to use protection at all times whenever you engage in sex to allow the ARVs to work, even if you and your partner are both HIV positive and are on the same medication.

LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR STRESS

It's very important to take care of yourself once you test HIV positive. Eat healthy to boost your immune system and exercise, as it strengthens your body and boosts your immune system and reduces stress. Treat minor illnesses as soon as they appear. Reduce your alcohol intake and do your best to quit smoking. Deal with anything that stresses

you and manage your stress well. Though I don’t like to impose spirituality, it has worked wonders for me, so I would advise it. All of these must be done along with taking your ARVs. Once you start taking ARVs, you are on your way to reclaiming your dreams. Let’s gain victory over HIV through knowledge and a positive attitude and outlook