When someone becomes HIV positive, he has been infected by a particular virus. It does not mean that he is sick.
The HI virus will harm his immune system (which protects him against germs) very slowly over many years. Many people don’t know they are HIV positive because they feel well, and don’t have any symptoms and haven’t been checked (tested) for HIV in their blood. It is better to know you have HIV as early as possible before you start becoming sick.
If you have recently learnt you are HIV positive you might feel worried, confused or even scared but at least you know your status and you can start looking after yourself. Knowing your status allows you to make good decisions about your health.
All HIV-related treatment is free of charge at public hospitals and clinics.
What You Should Know
- Know how HIV is affecting your body by doing a simple blood test, called a CD4 count. It will be done soon after you tested positive, and depending on the result it will be repeated every 6 months.
- Slowly (over several years), as the virus attacks your immune system, your CD4 count will come down. Your healthcare provider will start to talk about treatment as soon as you test HIV+.
- HIV is not Aids! If you do not get treatment you will, after a time, develop Aids but if you have your CD4 count checked and you start treatment at the right time you may never get Aids.
- HIV positive people who take ARV treatment correctly can live a normal quality of life.
What Can You Do?
- Eat healthy foods and get enough sleep and exercise. You don’t need a special diet or supplements; eating a balanced diet is enough.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which is bad for your liver.
- You need to tell your partner that you are HIV positive, so that they can be checked for HIV. You must develop a plan to manage HIV in your relationship. You may not want to have sex for a while, which is normal. When you have sex, use a condom and water-based lubricant every time to protect your partner from HIV, especially if you are the top.
- When you are ready, talk to someone you really trust about being HIV positive. This could be a friend, brother or sister, or a parent. Learn as much as you can about HIV; ask your nurse or counsellor questions.
- Don’t get worried if you get a cold or flu, but if you feel very sick or are worried consult your healthcare provider.
Have you heard about U=U? HIV-positive men on ART with undetectable viral loads, can’t pass it on to their negative partners – it’s been proven.