(English) I was diagnosed with HIV, what should I do?

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If you were diagnosed with HIV, it means that you have a virus in your body, which nowadays still cannot be cured. AIDS – it’s just one of the stages for HIV-infection which causes some serious health problems. However, there are medications which can slow down the progression of HIV and protect a person from AIDS. Most of people living with HIV do not see any symptoms and they can continue to have their usual lifestyle. Nevertheless, HIV-infection can cause psychological problems and a person might need some time to learn how to live with HIV.

HIV-IINFECTION – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

… it means that in your blood there is HIV virus – human immunodeficiency virus. Usually, several years after getting infected a person stays healthy. However, the viruses slowly destroys immune system causing many diseases. A late stage of HIV-infection is called AIDS. At this stage people are dealing with serious and dangerous diseases.
There are medicines that inhibit the virus progression and treat diseases caused by HIV. Unfortunately, a drug which could completely cure HIV infection does not exist.

HIV- INFECTION – WHAT DOES IT NOT MEAN?

… IT DOES NOT MEAN that you are not sick as long as you do not have any symptoms.
… IT DOES NOT MEAN that you are helpless. There are many ways to strengthen the immune system and increase life expectancy and improve your health.
… IT DOES NOT MEAN that you are going to die soon. Life expectancy with HIV-infection is increasing thanks to new ways of treatment, including the stage of AIDS
…. IT DOES NOT MEAN that you have to change your life radically if you do not want it.

WHAT BOTHERS PEOPLE DIAGNOSED WITH „HIV INFECTION»?

Most people feel intense anxiety, fear for themselves or for their loved ones, anger, depression, despair. At first, many people think of suicide. However, other might be absolutely quiet. Many people at first do not believe in their diagnosis.

When you are overwhelmed with feelings the most important is to not take any hasty decisions and to find an opportunity to talk to someone. BUT: do not rush immediately to talk about your diagnosis with your family or friends, if you do not know how they will react. You can anonymously contact helpline or a social center which helps people with HIV, where they will listen to you without asking any questions.

It is important to understand that you are not alone. Many people who went through the situation you are facing right now are ready to help you.

People with whom you have sex with or with whom you shared a needle for injecting drugs might be also infected and do not know about it. For your request, without saying your name, a social service might advise them to get tested for HIV. Or you can inform them about it.

DOES HIV-INFECTION MEAN THAT I SHOULD CHANGE SOMETHING IN MY LIFE?

… YES, because being HIV-infected, you should control the situation and must not become a helpless victim. Knowledge is your strength, so try to learn more about HIV-infection progression, what kind of analysis you should pass, how to maintain to be healthy, about new drugs and ways of treatment. You should know your rights and fight for them.

… YES, because you should take care of your physical and mental health right now. Try to quit smoking and reduce the consumption of alcohol. Plan a balanced diet, rich in calories, protein and vitamins. Avoid stress, do not refuse yourself to sleep, to rest, to do sport, to have fun and to spend time with friends.

… YES, because you should protect your partner from getting infected. You can avoid infection if you use condoms or learn how to have a safe sex (kisses, smooches, petting, erotic fantasies). There are criminal penalties for knowingly transmitting or exposing another person to HIV (Art. 122 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation).

… YES, because in order to prevent other people from getting infected you should use your own syringes for injection. Avoid any kind of contact with your blood, sperm or vaginal discharge on mucous membranes or wounds of another person. This is the only possible way of transmission.

… NO, because in almost all cases, you can continue to work. The only exceptions are few professions specified in the Federal Law of the Russian Federation on the Prevention of the Spread of HIV. You do not have to tell your employer and co-workers about the fact that you are infected.

… NO, because your family, friends and neighbors are people with whom you do not have sex and do not use a common syringe, so they cannot get infected from you and there is no need to inform them about your diagnosis. You can cook, use the same dishes, etc., without any fear of infecting your loved ones. Needless to say, regardless of HIV infection, you should not allow anyone to use your razor or toothbrush.

… NO, because HIV-infection should not be a reason to forego your plans, interests, education, work, hobbies, love or sex. Soon you will learn that your lifestyle will not change a lot.