I Have HIV, Now What?
I was very nervous when I went to get my HIV test. In my opinion, I had not had a very active sex life, but I was aware that I had not used a condom many times, whether it be because of haste, not losing the opportunity or because the other person did not bring it up.
And now I was there, in the room of a foundation, waiting for the results of a rapid test that could change my life forever. And it did. The counselor called me into his office and told me the result had been positive. I was in shock, I wasn’t even able to cry. I just sat there, listening to the calming words from the counselor.
He said, HIV is a chronic disease that can currently be very well controlled with the proper treatment.
He even told me that if the treatment is taken properly, the virus in the blood goes down to undetectable levels, which makes it practically impossible to be transmitted to another person. Wow! I didn’t know that!
“So, what do I have to do to make my infection undetectable?”, I asked, willing to follow every indication he gave me. Little by little, he described the following:
- Seek medical attention in the health system. In my country, as in many others, there are public health institutions where I wouldn’t have to pay anything. Since I didn’t know what institution to go to, he helped me locate the clinic where I was to be seen.
- Start antiretroviral treatment. As soon as I got to the hospital, they assigned me an antiretroviral plan to start my treatment. They informed me that I could have some side effects from the medications, such as nausea or vomit, but that it would only last a few days.
- Comply with treatment. The way the antiretroviral medications attack the virus allows for no margin of error. It`s important to take them on time and as prescribed to ensure HIV is under control.
- Keep my follow up appointments. The only reason to know if antiretroviral treatment is working, is to measure the amount of virus in the blood and the amount of defense cells (or CD4), and this is done through lab tests. Attending the follow up appointments include carrying out these tests and also speaking to the doctor about any concerns that might come up.
It’s been more than a year since they detected me with HIV. Treatment has been a complete success and I intend to keep the same discipline, since it’s a relief to know that my health is, in great measure, in my own hands.
At AHF we are here to help you, we can help you start your antiretroviral treatment for free. Make your appointment today and visit us.