Your first month of living with an HIV positive diagnosis
You’ve made it. Reaching the one month milestone of receiving your HIV positive diagnosis is amazing! Remember that weight you felt on day one, with all of those thoughts and emotions running wild – you’ve overcome the toughest part about dealing with your diagnosis. You are always welcome to contact our 24-hour HIV Helpline to talk about the hard days and situations you maybe didn’t think of yet. Our trusted and qualified professionals are here to help you navigate the challenges unique to coping with HIV.
Managing your lifestyle as an HIV positive person
Now that you’ve had one month to adjust to your medication, have you noticed any difference in how you feel? It could be a simple thing like a cough subsiding or side effects disappearing. Remember that if you feel like something’s wrong at any time, you need to visit your doctor again to talk about it and ask every question you have.
Your lifestyle choices as an HIV positive person play an important part in keeping you healthy for many years to come. Let’s consider the following now that you’re ready to progress beyond month one:
Do you need to make changes to your eating habits?
The same rules apply here too: yes, you should be eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, no matter what. Eating a healthy diet helps you to stay strong, live a happy life, and you are able to meet the demands of your day. If you were following a specific diet plan before starting treatment, we recommend you stay on it, but talk to your doctor or clinic sister about your nutritional needs.
You can also browse our HIV website for more detailed articles about eating for a stronger immune system.
While your side effects might have disappeared by now, some HIV patients take longer than others to settle into and adjust to ARVs. If your nausea still troubles you at this point, you can try these things before speaking to your doctor again:
- Eat small healthy meals every two hours, rather than three big meals a day.
- Replace spicy foods with bland food: plain pasta or soup should help.
- Try the BRAT approach: Bananas, Rice, Apple Sauce, and Toast.
- Eat more cold food than hot food.
Managing work and HIV treatment
You’re not legally required to tell your employer that you have been diagnosed with HIV. On the day of your diagnosis we suggested that you request a medical certificate from your doctor to support an application for sick leave, depending on your doctor’s assessment of your medicine strength and your mental and emotional need to recover and let your diagnosis sink in. The medical motivation for your bed rest or mental health recovery does not need to include your HIV positive diagnosis.
The law protects you: you are under no legal obligation to tell your boss, your manager, your secretary, or your colleagues, that you are HIV-positive. If you do choose to tell your employer that you are HIV-positive, they cannot tell someone else that without your consent. Your right to privacy has not changed, and cannot be changed, no matter what.
Who needs to know your HIV status?
This is a difficult question to answer, because we all lead different lives, have different families and circles of friends, different jobs, and different needs. But, before you make any decisions relating to who you talk to next, we do know one person you should chat to: a counsellor.
If you already regularly visit a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, we encourage that you use the opportunity to obtain guidance on how to navigate the decision to disclose your status to your friends, family and/or spouse/partner. You can also call our 24-hour HIV Helpline to find out how to move beyond your first month of living with your HIV diagnosis.