Being diagnosed HIV positive can be a scary and confusing time for you as well as your friends and family. The main thing to remember is:
You are not alone.
You can live a long, normal life with HIV.
Although adjusting to this new life may be an emotional road as well as a physical one, with medical help, education, support, and effort you can live a healthy life with HIV. It’s time to be proactive about your health. It is also important to educate yourself and others about HIV. The more you know, the better you will understand the virus and the steps you need to take to keep yourself and your partner(s) healthy.
First, you will need to contact the health department for an interview. BAO’s Education Director, Josh Bruce, can accompany you to the health department. To contact the Jefferson County Health Department call 205.930.1175.
It's very important to see a doctor as soon as possible after your diagnosis. You and your doctor need to evaluate your health and begin to plan for the future. We can help! BAO can supply you with different medical options whether it is local HIV clinics or private HIV specialist doctors. We can also coach you on what to expect within the first few months when starting medical care.
Some quick advice before seeing your doctor is to make a list and write down any questions you have before your appointments. This can help you make the most of your visits. Also, consider finding a friend to go with you to make sure your questions get answered.
Case Manager/Social Worker
BAO has case managers or social workers who know their local social service system and can help you find resources. We can help you solve some issues you might face, like finding transportation, housing, and ways to cover your health care costs. BAO offers these services for free. Contact the main office at 205.322.4197 to make an appointment.
Support Groups / Counseling
Support groups and/or counseling are one way to find a secure place to talk about your life. Studies show that individuals who take part in support groups and/or counseling have better health and quality of life. BAO offers several different support groups based on needs and for specific populations. BAO also provides free one-on-one counseling with a licensed professional counselor for individuals, spouse/partner, and family members.
It’s Important to have Support
Telling others about your HIV status can feel frightening. It is normal to feel insecure or afraid about your peers or your family finding out your HIV status. But sharing your HIV status may help you cope, and it is important for you to have support from people in your life. Sharing this news can actually improve your health, mentally and physically, by relieving the stress of keeping your HIV status a secret.
Take Your Time
You don't have to tell anyone your HIV status that you don’t want to, and you don’t have to tell your HIV status to everyone all at once. Finding people who can support you can make a big difference and help you stay healthy while improving your quality of life. Take your time when planning who to tell about your HIV status, choosing carefully who you want to tell and who you think will react well to the news.
Click Here for BAO's Just Diagnosed Guide:
You Just Tested Positive.