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Anonymous on November 11, 2011

Can you tell us more about how to live with HIV?

My friend recently found out he’s HIV positive. Can you tell us a little more about how to live with HIV?

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on November 11, 2011

Thanks for sharing your concern. I can understand that this may be a difficult and confusing time for your friend.

I can share with you a few general points about living with HIV, but it’s important that your friend consult a doctor in his area to get personalized care and information for himself.

That said, here are some general tips for next steps after an HIV diagnosis:

  • Find a doctor who specializes in HIV care. For anyone with HIV, having a doctor who knows how to care for and treat HIV is important. You can look for an Infectious Disease doctor or a Primary Care Provider with a specialized certification to treat HIV.
  • Consult your doctor about when to start HIV treatment, then stick with it. Highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) is a combination of drugs that suppress the virus and limit damage to the body from HIV. Once a person begins treatment, it’s important to follow the doctor’s instructions and take the meds as prescribed.
  • Inform sexual partners about your HIV status and use protection. Often, telling a partner your positive HIV status can sound like a daunting responsibility, but it’s important. Even though using condoms during sexual activity can greatly reduce the risk of passing HIV to a partner, it’s still crucial that any potential partner understand the risks and take appropriate precautions.

There are also a number of resources available to to support your HIV-positive life. For more, you might want to check out TheBody.com, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Living with HIV/AIDS fact sheets.  

In the mean time, you can learn more about HIV in our Expert Guide. Thanks for asking your sensitive question and I wish you both good luck on your journey to living well with HIV.

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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