Living With HIV: HIV Treatment and How to Be Healthier

Make your HIV a priority

Though it may feel overwhelming to be diagnosed with HIV infection, there are actions you can take that may help you continue leading a full and healthy life. Sometimes, when we are given bad news—whether expected or totally by surprise—the first reaction is often to do nothing, especially when that news is as overwhelming as being told that “You have HIV infection.” It is so easy to put off thinking about it all until tomorrow. Decide to act. Decide to live your best life.

While it is definitely okay to take time to breathe and get your bearings, this may not be the time to hide out. You may be in such shock over your diagnosis, or there may be so much in your life competing for your attention right now (like finding a job or somewhere to live), focusing on your HIV treatment is the last thing you want to think about. Make it the first.

Get the care you deserve

When you have HIV infection you need the best health care professional you can get. Your health care professional is your partner in the fight against HIV. You might feel uncomfortable telling health care professionals some intimate details about yourself. But you need to be honest about every part of your life, so they can recommend the treatment that fits your lifestyle.

You may find everything you need in 1 health care professional. Sometimes you may want both a primary care doctor and an HIV specialist. And sometimes you may decide that the health care professional you found is not right for you and you want to find a new one. All of this may also depend on your health insurance. Plus, make sure you do not forget about your other non-HIV health issues. Other conditions can be serious and could make managing your HIV infection harder.

Staying healthy with any chronic illness requires a certain degree of discipline and self-care. You may have always put family first. Now you need to take care of yourself, so you can care for them. You might think you’re being selfish by making your health a priority, but you need to take your HIV treatment seriously. If you make the right choices for yourself, you’ll be doing the right thing for the people you love.

Some activities to get you started include:

  • If you are taking medicines, work with your health care professional to come up with a regimen that you can follow and which fits into your life
  • Take time to eat the best quality food you can afford
  • Get exercise each day
  • If you smoke, consider getting help to quit
  • If you currently use alcohol or other drugs, consider getting help
  • Do something that feeds your soul, like take some quiet time, read, meditate, or just listen to music each day

You may be uncertain about this new development in your life, but there is a lot of support available for you. Look for strength within. Ask for support from your loved ones and consult with your qualified, caring healthcare team. You have the power to get on a positive path forward to successfully managing your HIV, and the time to do it is now!

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