Processing an HIV Diagnosis
With my 9-year anniversary of my HIV diagnosis slowly approaching, I started to think about those that are going through a new HIV diagnosis.
I started to think about those who may not have all the information that they may need to become undetectable. I started to think about those who may not know where to look for information on how to process their HIV diagnosis.
I want to share with you all the steps that I personally needed to take when I first got diagnosed.
How much did your doctor tell you about HIV when you were diagnosed?
Step 1: Feel your feelings
The first step I took was to let myself feel any emotion that I felt I needed to.
A HIV diagnosis can come with a whirlpool of emotions ranging from sadness to anger or from shock to grief. I personally felt scared and regret about some of the choices that I made.
Soon after I realized that it was not my fault, none of it was my fault. I was a young gay man who loved and trusted another man. I believe that I needed to feel all of these emotions to move forward with my life.
How long have you been living with HIV?
Learn about HIV
My next step was to gather all the information that I could about HIV and what was now going on with my body and health.
The more knowledge I had around my diagnosis, the better I felt I could manage my condition and live a healthy life.
After my research and talking with a doctor, I started taking HIV treatment. It is always best to start treatment as soon as possible to make sure that HIV does not progress to AIDS.
Disclosing to someone you trust
The next step I took was to find someone that I trusted enough to share this news with. For a few months I kept it all in because I feared judgement. It took me a few months before I found the courage to tell my mother.
You can find comfort in telling a close friend, family member, or even a therapist.
Seeking support groups
Once I got more comfortable with my diagnosis, I started to look for local support groups in my area. I was able to find an HIV-positive support group as well as a gay men's support group. These types of support groups are great for talking through how you are feeling or to just relate with other people who may have your same interests.
Keep looking forward
The last step I took is the same step that I continue to stay on now and everyday moving forward. This step was to take care of myself while keeping a positive outlook on life. It took me awhile to get to this point, but I promise you all that it is possible.
I learned to take care of myself by trusting in both my partner and my family. I learned how to take care of myself by getting into a routine every morning to take my pill after I worked out at the gym.
I hope those that are newly diagnosed are reading this and can use my personal experiences to move them towards the first step in processing their diagnosis.
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