Life after your HIV diagnosis: the one week milestone.

Well done! You’ve made it through your first week of your HIV diagnosis.

Life after your HIV diagnosis: the one week milestone.

Well done! You’ve made it through your first week of your HIV diagnosis.

It’s been a week since you were faced with the life-changing event of being diagnosed as HIV positive. Your mind may still be overwhelmed by racing thoughts. It’s ok if you still feel unsure of how to cope. Our AllLife HIV Helpline is available 24/7 to help you find out more information. Use it as another opportunity to speak with professionals who know about the stages of dealing with diagnosis.

How are you feeling?

The first few days of adjusting to ARVs can be tough on your body. If you planned out a few days of rest with your doctor, and used your sick leave, did it help? Our last article discussed the possible side effects of HIV treatment. If you experienced any and these are not going away, it’s time to call or visit your doctor again. Find out if you need to change either your dosage times, your dosage itself or the ARV you were placed on, altogether.

You’re doing a brilliant job of dealing with your HIV diagnosis

Day one was undoubtedly one of the toughest days you might have faced in your life. Maybe you didn’t even expect to make it to the end of week one, but you’re here. This means you’ve already started to reclaim control over your life. Living with HIV doesn’t mean you’re confined to the four walls of your bedroom for the rest of your life.

If you think of your treatment plan as being a part of your daily routine, it’s easier to follow. Ask your doctor about whether you can take your medicine as a part of your regular morning or bedtime routine. Many people living with HIV align taking their medication with another routine, like brushing their teeth in the evening. Your life isn’t automatically reduced by your HIV diagnosis. In fact, you can live as long as somebody who is HIV negative. You just need to follow your treatment plan and make the effort to live a healthy lifestyle.

More HIV facts

Reaching the end of week one is such an important milestone. It signifies that you have allowed yourself time to process the fact that this is really happening. You may have noticed that you can still follow your daily routine without too much change. Now you’re ready to learn about HIV in more depth, so let’s run through a few more important points:

Will HIV become AIDS for you?

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) occurs when twenty or more opportunistic infections take hold of your body, while HIV attacks your immune system. One of our previous articles explores this in more depth, if you’d like to learn more about it. But right now, at week one of living with an HIV diagnosis, we need to talk about what you can expect going forward.

Your HIV positive diagnosis means that you are aware of your health status and you can do something about it. Now that you’ve had a few days on your ARV treatment, take some time to think deeply about the difference in your body. Your side effects may still be wearing off. Monitor yourself closely over the next few weeks. After your first month on treatment you will be able to tell the difference.

Being diagnosed with HIV does not automatically mean that you will progress to the point of having full blown AIDS.

Understand more about HIV and how to live a happy, healthy life with a positive status.

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How long does your HIV treatment take?

HIV is a condition that requires a lifelong commitment for effective management and control. It’s considered a chronic condition now, and no longer terminal, thanks to advances in medical technology. Your ARVs may change in strength, dosage or type (capsule, pill, injection) but you need to continue regular treatment to control your viral load.

You need to be disciplined about your treatment plan because it’s the key to living a long, healthy life.

What about exercise while on HIV treatment?

Being HIV positive doesn’t change the rules of physical activity. Speak to your doctor, nurse or clinic sister if you want to start a new exercise programme or sport. You will get help to plan out the right amount of exercise to support the impact your ARVs have on building your immune system.

If you’re sporty, your body will handle the strain relatively well from the moment you start taking ARVs. Speak to your doctor if your side effects are intense and you still want to try exercising. You could experience dizziness, excessive thirst or nausea while working out. If physical exercise is a foreign language to you, it’s time to get moving. Something as simple as a set of 10 push-ups, sit-ups, squats and jumping jacks every day can help your immune system regain strength.

Not every exercise day will be easy, but with persistence and discipline you will find it rewarding. Always remember that our HIV Helpline is available 24/7 to answer more questions and guide you through your coping process. Take it day by day, browse the rest of our HIV website for more information. Let’s review your progress together again at the one month milestone.

We all have questions.

Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.

What is usually the first sign of HIV?

After getting 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 and 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 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 two to four weeks after infection and can last about one to two 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 has been highly effective in reducing transmission risk to under 1%.

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