HIV should NOT define YOU!
A diagnosis of HIV can be a life-changing event that can impact a person’s self-image, relationships, and overall well-being. While it is vital to acknowledge and address the physical, emotional, and social implications of living with HIV, it is equally important not to allow the virus to define a person’s identity.
By Cindy Pivacic.
When diagnosed in 2004, I allowed my HIV status to define me, causing a significant negative impact on my mental health, social life, and overall well-being leading to feelings of shame and guilt, which caused me to isolate myself. At this point, my self-esteem and confidence took a knock, and I was fearful of discrimination. Furthermore, I focused solely on my HIV status (for six years before going public) prevented me from pursuing other interests and goals in my life.
Once I realised that, should I continue on this path of allowing HIV to define me, I would be stuck in this circle of guilt and shame which would be detrimental to a purposeful life of my choice. On disclosing to my family and friends and subsequently going public with my HIV status, I felt immense relief to pursue other life goals and allow HIV to be a part of that life, should I choose, which I did!
It was my choice, not my diagnosis, that dictated the path I took.
Here are a few reasons why you should not allow living with HIV to define you:
HIV is just one aspect of your life: Your HIV status is only one part of who you are in life. You are a complex and multifaceted individual with unique qualities, experiences, and goals. Your existence must recognise and celebrate all aspects of your identity, including your strengths, passions, and achievements.
You are not alone: An estimated 38 million people worldwide live with HIV. You are part of a diverse and resilient community affected by this virus. By connecting with others who share your experiences, you can gain support, resources, and a sense of belonging.
You have control over your health: Although living with HIV requires careful management and monitoring, it does not have to define your health status or prognosis. With proper treatment and self-care, people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. By focusing on your overall health and well-being, you can take an active role in managing your HIV and achieving your goals.
You deserve respect and dignity: Discrimination related to HIV can be hurtful and damaging. However, it is central to your well-being to remember that you are a valuable and worthy person, regardless of your HIV status. You have the right to be treated with respect, dignity and compassion to live a life free from discrimination.
While living with HIV can present significant challenges, the virus mustn’t define you. By focusing on your strengths, connecting with others, managing your health, and asserting your dignity, you can live a fulfilling and meaningful life, regardless of your HIV status.
A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.
You can get cover of up to 3 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million if you are living with HIV.
SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.
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