Just discovered you’re HIV-positive?
If you just learned you’re HIV-positive, you may be feeling scared, mad, calm, or a range of other emotions. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s important to know that with effective care, you can live a long and active life with HIV.
The first step is to talk to your doctor about treatment options. Starting treatment as soon as possible can slow or even stop the virus from damaging your immune system—and gives you the best chance of being healthy for years to come.
Play an active role in your care
When it comes to treating HIV, you and your doctor can work together to make the most of your treatment:
- Take your meds. Your doctor will most likely prescribe one pill (that combines two or more medicines), which you must take every day to treat HIV.
- Keep all of your scheduled medical appointments and lab visits. Use a calendar or set reminders on your phone.
- Be frank with your doctor about how you’re feeling. Talk about any changes in your health since your last visit.
- Make lists. Before every appointment, make a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your doctor.
- Be organized. Keep track of all of your lab results, medicines, and other important health information.
- Talk about side effects. Nearly all medications cause side effects, and HIV meds are no exception. While most side effects from HIV medicines are mild (if there are any at all) and go away after a short adjustment period, tell your doctor if you experience any.
If you’re not yet receiving care, it’s important to find a knowledgeable doctor who has experience treating HIV. Need help finding a doctor? Check out these tips.
If you need help paying for medications, the HIV Drug Assistance (HDAP) program can help.
There are also several support systems available in Massachusetts, including peer support, case management, and partner services programs. Learn about HIV resources near you.
When an HIV-positive person takes HIV medicines for their own well-being, they also experience the added benefit of preventing others from becoming infected. It’s known as being undetectable, although you may hear it by other names, including “viral suppression,” “treatment as prevention,” “treatment is prevention,” or “undetectable=untransmittable (U=U).” Learn more
Telling partners about your status
If you are living with HIV, disclosing your status to a partner can be difficult. Taking about your HIV status—and your partner’s status—allows you to both take steps to stay healthy.
Need help telling partners they may have been exposed to HIV? The Partner Services Program (PSP) helps people diagnosed with HIV and STDs get treatment, notify partners, and even help them get testing and medical care. To learn more, visit the PSP site or call (617) 983-6999.