What to Do When You Are Diagnosed with HIV/ AIDS

What does an HIV diagnosis mean?

  • If you receive an HIV diagnosis, it means that you have HIV.
  • Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely. Once you have HIV, you have it for life.
  • But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. People with HIV who get effective HIV treatment can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners.

What should I do if I just got diagnosed with HIV?

Take Time to Process the News

  • Receiving an HIV diagnosis can be life changing. You may feel many emotions—sadness, hopelessness, or anger.
  • Allied health care providers and social service providers can help you work through the early stages of your diagnosis. They are often available at your health care provider’s office.
  • Learn more about what a positive test result means.

Find HIV Care

bottle of pills

Start HIV Treatment As Soon As Possible After Diagnosis

  • Get in care and take medicine to treat HIV (called antiretroviral therapy or ART).
  • Taking HIV medicine can reduce the amount of HIV in the blood (called viral load).
  • HIV medicine can make the viral load very low (called viral suppression). Viral suppression is defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.
  • HIV medicine can make the viral load so low that a test can’t detect it (called an undetectable viral load).
  • Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load (or staying virally suppressed) is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. Having an undetectable viral load also helps prevent transmission to others. In fact, if you have an undetectable viral load, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex. Most people can get the virus under control within six months.

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