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The Naked Truth The Sexual Health Blog

HIV Positive: The Next Steps

March 13th, 2012 by Dr. Lisa, Medical Director

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HIV is always a scary diagnosis. Yet, in this day and age, the truth is that people can live a long, happy life with HIV. In fact, a recent study found that people with HIV might only live 7 less years than those who do not have such a diagnosis (if they are non-smokers and if there is no Hepatitis B or C co-infection). These rates are similar to those who have other lifelong conditions such as diabetes. SOURCE: http://www.natap.org/2011/HIV/112811_03.htm

Of course, this does not mean that HIV is not a serious illness. Once you discover you have HIV, there are many steps you should take in order to preserve your health. Consider the following:

  1. Once you discover you have HIV, you need to look for a specialist who treats this condition. Your general practitioner can point you in the right direction, but he won’t have the tools or knowledge to accurately address this disease. An HIV specialist is a must, and with your doctor’s help, you can find a specialist you trust as well as one who takes your insurance.
  2. You need to notify any and all partners. Don’t take a risk by not telling people whom you might have infected, or partners who might have infected you. Err on the side of caution and tell any partners who might have been exposed to the virus.
  3. Make clean living your goal. You can improve your health by making healthy choices. Stop smoking and limit (or eliminate) your alcohol use. Eat a healthy diet comprised of lean protein, whole grains, and fruits and grains. And, if approved by your doctor, exercise. You don’t have to join a gym or run a marathon, but simply moving more and getting active can improve your health. Ask a buddy to join you for daily walks, or do an evening exercise video.
  4. Be aware of anything that sounds too good to be true. Sadly, there are people who prey on people with conditions like HIV. They sell things like vitamins and herbal supplements with the promise that it can cure HIV or other diseases. Be aware of this and only take supplements or medications if they are prescribed by your doctor.
  5. Remember, an HIV diagnosis is NOT a death sentence. Many people can live a long, healthy life with HIV, as long as they make their health a priority and see their doctor on a regular basis.

While there is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, we know that we can reduce the risk among the general population if everyone practices safer sex, and if everyone who is infected receives medical treatment and informs their partner. It is possible to live with HIV—one needs only to look at people like Magic Johnson to realize that nothing is impossible. If you think you might be at risk for HIV, talk to your doctor or visit sexualhealth.com for convenient, 100% private testing.

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