It’s been one month since you were diagnosed as HIV-positive.
Now that you’ve had one month to adjust to your medication, have you noticed any difference in how you feel?
Your first month of living with HIV
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 your journey of living with HIV. Our trusted, qualified professionals are here to help you navigate the challenges unique to living 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?
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 people living with HIV 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.
Understand more about HIV and how to live a happy, healthy life when you are HIV-positive.
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Managing work and HIV treatment
You’re not legally required to tell your employer that you are HIV-positive. On the day of your diagnosis we suggested that you request a medical certificate from your doctor to support an application for sick leave. The medical motivation for your bed rest or mental health recovery does not need to include your HIV status.
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 HIV.
We all have questions.
Below are some of the answers to the most common questions around HIV.
What is usually the first sign of HIV?
After becoming infected with HIV, most patients only experience moderate flu-like symptoms. Typically, the illness is sudden in onset and is characterised by fever, swelling of the lymph glands, a measles-like rash all over the body, ulcers in the mouth and sometimes on the genitalia.
What are the 4 stages of HIV?
- Stage 1: Infection – Exposure to infected bodily fluids.
- Stage 2: Asymptomatic – HIV quickly spreads and the patient becomes seropositive for HIV antibodies.
- Stage 3: Symptomatic – The immune system is now engaged in a constant battle with the rapidly replicating virus.
- Stage 4: AIDS – At this stage, the patient’s CD4+ count is 200 cells per mm3 or less.
How soon can HIV be detected by a blood test?
No test can detect HIV immediately after infection. The time between initial infection and a detectable viral load is called the window period. It can take anywhere from 2-12 weeks to after exposure, to detect whether you are HIV-positive or not, depending on which testing method is used.
How long does it take to show symptoms of HIV?
Following initial infection, there is a period of intense, unchecked viral replication that occurs. It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks after infection and can last about 1 to 2 weeks, after which there tends to be a slight recovery, and the infected individual is considered to be seropositive for HIV antibodies.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV is transmitted from one person to another through the exchange of body fluids. The main method of transmission in South Africa is through unprotected sexual activity.
Does HIV test affect life insurance?
Being HIV-positive can affect standard life insurance policies, particularly if your status changes from HIV-negative to HIV-positive within a particular age range. That’s why AllLife covers all lives. Your HIV status doesn’t prevent you from getting cover with us.
Can HIV-positive women have children?
Yes, HIV-positive women can enjoy healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy HIV-negative babies, through the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme. PMTCT has been highly effective in reducing the HIV transmission risk to under 1%.
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