Staying a Step Ahead
by Liz Highleyman
Successfully navigating the road ahead requires a plan
Like everything in life, living long-term with HIV requires a strategy. This means working with your health care team—including your medical team, your social worker or case manager and others you rely on for care and support. They will help you achieve your goals and stay one step ahead of any challenges.
Also remember that, no matter what your long-term strategy, there’s always room for improvements along the way. “My advice would be to take it in 12-year chunks,” Dr. Abrams says. “Look how different this disease is now compared to 1981. The first 12 years were dismal. The second 12 were a complete change. Who knows what the next 12 will bring? With the progress being made, I think there’s every reason to be hopeful.”
Nobody embarks on an HIV journey knowing exactly how to play. But the basic rules for long-term living are easy to follow—and it’s never too late to learn them.
- Be sure you’re working with a health care provider who is easy to talk to and has a lot of HIV experience. If the relationship doesn’t feel right, find a specialist you feel comfortable with.
- Long-term living with HIV often means making important decisions. Educating yourself about HIV and its treatment—and keeping up-to-date with the latest information—can make your choices seem less daunting, especially when talking with your health care provider. AIDSmeds.com and poz.com are great resources.
- Talk with your provider about HIV meds proven to go the distance—not all ARVs have shown persistent safety and effectiveness in long-term clinical trials.
- Get the support you need, as you need it. Financial troubles, emotional difficulties, social isolation, abuse and drug use can hinder your well-being and can occur in HIV newbies and veterans alike. Your doc, clinic or nearest AIDS service organization can hook you up with the services you need.
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