I was 22 years old when I was diagnosed with HIV and was convinced I’d die of AIDS before turning 30. Today, I’m looking forward to my 40th birthday.
Being diagnosed with HIV can be shocking and incredibly upsetting, but with proper care and treatment, you can live a long and healthy life. This is not to say that living with HIV doesn’t come with challenges, but it is no longer the death sentence it was once perceived to be.
If you’re newly diagnosed with HIV, start by taking a deep breath. No matter how afraid, sad or angry you might feel, you will feel better as you start working closely with a health care provider and begin surrounding yourself with the support you need.
This POZ Focus underscores one of the most important tools we possess: our ability to communicate. Research consistently shows that the better we communicate with our health providers and our support network, the more likely it is that we’ll get the care, services and respect we deserve and to which we are entitled.
We hope you’ll use this special edition of POZ as a guide to start talking effectively with those people who will help you make important decisions that can save your life. In these pages, you’ll learn about first steps that are important for all people newly diagnosed with HIV. You’ll also read about how to communicate effectively with your health care provider and what key topics you should discuss. You’ll also find some tips on disclosing your HIV status, including the importance of doing so with sexual partners—former, current and future.
While reading and familiarizing yourself about HIV, keep your chin up. Know that you are not alone in this fight, and that you can survive living with HIV if you are willing to confront it. Take it from me—you can survive HIV.
Here’s to your long and healthy future,
Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. Deputy Editor, POZ magazine
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