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You may have received a positive HIV diagnosis recently. Whilst you may be feeling a whole hosts of feelings and emotions right now, I wanted to reach out and reassure you that:
there is help available
life really doesn’t have to stop, just because you’ve had a positive diagnosis.
Often clients can feel numb, empty, scared and worried about the future. Some are fearful that they may spend life alone through fear that they can’t tell partners, family members and friends about their diagnosis. Some also fear the impact it may have on their job and career and worry about life expectancy.
You are not alone!
Understanding HIV & AIDS
HIV and AIDS are two different things. The term HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. The virus damages the immune system and makes it harder for you to fight off some infections and diseases. Whereas AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. AIDS describes the various life threatening illnesses you could acquire as a result of being HIV positive.
At present there isn’t a cure for the virus however, thanks to advances in medical care, those people living with HIV can live a full, long and healthy life. It’s worth noting also that an early diagnosis and consistent and effective treatment, allows most people to avoid AIDS-related illnesses.
HIV Diagnosis Counselling
Specialist counselling and psychotherapy for people with HIV or AIDS in Nuneaton & Hinckley
For most people that contract the HIV virus (but not all) , they can go through a short flu-like illness - which is called seroconversion. In some cases, when this period and symptoms pass, there may be no further indications of the virus for several years.
The symptoms of this short illness can include:
At the moment there is no cure for the HIV virus. However, there is very good treatment available for HIV, using a form of medication known as antiretrovirals. These have come a very long way from their initial introduction, and in a lot of cases, only one tablet is needed daily. The drug suppresses the HIV virus and stops it replicating. In many cases the drugs allow people living with the HIV virus, to enter a state known as ‘undetectable’. This doesn’t mean that the virus had disappeared, but it does mean that it’s unlikely to be passed on. This means the HIV virus no longer replicates within the immune system, enabling people to live a healthy life, with a strong and adequate immune system.
The importance of medication
It is vitally important that you take your medication as prescribed. Antiretrovirals need to be taken on a daily basis to ensure there are consistent levels of the medication in your system, helping to fight the virus. Regular intervals of missed medication may allow the virus to replicate, damaging your immune system, and potentially disqualifying the use of that particular medication.
Living with HIV
Whilst HIV treatments can protect your immune system from further damage and reduce the virus, a cure isn’t currently available. So, when you have the HIV virus, it is something you will live with. Early detection and treatment can help those with HIV to live just as long as those without the virus, and with fewer HIV-relates illnesses.
Looking after your physical and mental health can help reduce the risk of becoming ill. Exercise, a balanced diet, stopping smoking and reducing the intake of alcohol and drugs, are all advisable.
How can HIV impact your life?
An HIV diagnosis can impact your life considerably. It is not necessarily a life-treating condition anymore but it is a life-long one that you will need to manage. It can understandably affect your psychological wellbeing as a result.
Some people find it hard to adjust to a positive diagnosis. Sometimes it causes anxiety, depression, low self-esteem/confidence and can make people feel lonely and isolated. When these were present before a diagnosis, they may be even more difficult to manage.
Unfortunately there are still stigmas attached to the term ‘HIV positive’ and therefore this can affect many types of personal relationships. It can also lead to anxiety, depression and need for isolation.
Your journey, whilst living with HIV, does NOT have to be a lonely one. If you are struggling with a diagnosis or feeling low about yourself, you could find therapy helpful. I know from my vast experience that counselling and psychotherapy can dramatically transform a persons life. It can help you work through and gain and greater understanding of what you’re going through, whilst also helping with self-confidence and the other challenges life has in store.
Telling people about your HIV diagosis
How, when or should I tell people that I’m HIV positive?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that your only real obligation is to your current or future sexual partners. There can be a lot of fear around telling people about your HIV status. This is YOUR choice, and not a decision to be made by anyone else. Should you decide to tell other people, we can look at how best to do this. I can help you gain confidence whilst understanding your own fears and emotions.
You do not need to tell your employer. There is no legal obligation to do so, unless you are in the armed forces or work within the health service providing invasive procedures.
It’s also worth noting that you are protected under the Equality Act 2010. This means employers cannot ask about certain health conditions during the job application process. Employers can then ask health questions once you have a job to help them decide whether or not you can carry out essential tasks for the job.
Just remember, you are not alone. I am here to help support you at every step of your journey.
Why with Ryan Vigor-Justin at Clarity Therapy?
• Talking through your recent diagnosis can be difficult. You are in safe hands as I specialise in supporting clients come to terms with a positive HIV diagnosis.
• Face-to-face, online and telephone appointments are available - access support wherever you are!
• You can self-refer to counselling, just book an appointment online or over the telephone
• Free initial telephone consultation
• Flexible appointments at a time that's convenient for you
• Safe, welcoming, friendly environment
• Tailored therapeutic plan to your individual needs
Benefits of therapy
• Confidential, non-judgemental environment where you can discuss your concerns, emotions and feelings.
• Space to discuss and work through difficult relating to your recent diagnosis, as well as issues like low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
• A safe environment to explore private matters such as sex life/desires and relationship issues.
• Support for family members who may be finding it difficult coming to terms with your HIV diagnosis.