Person researching their HIV diagnosis.

Dealing with an HIV + diagnosis.

Model portrayal above

Model portrayal above

I was just diagnosed with HIV. What do I do?

Give yourself time to process your emotions and learn about HIV—then prioritize treatment.

Dealing with an HIV diagnosis can be challenging. You may feel many emotions—sadness, hopelessness, or even anger. So, it's incredibly important to process those thoughts and feelings. But it's also important to start treatment as soon as possible because HIV can be treated effectively with today's treatments.

HIV treatment can help people live longer, healthier lives by helping you lower your viral load. Of course, HIV medication is an important part of starting treatment, but support is also needed to help you get off to a good start. If you need emotional or mental health support during this time, here are some resources that may help.

Terms you may hear

We have defined some key terms that might be helpful to know as you are starting and sticking with treatment.

Real person living with HIV.

Living with HIV: Matthew | Think about what you can do

MATTHEW: If somebody came to me and told me that they can’t deal with HIV right now, I would just simply tell them, you’ll be surprised on what you can do.”

One thing I’ve learned ... is not use the word “can’t”.

Think about what you can do.

And move forward from there.

And you’re allowed to write people into your circle. Those are gonna be the ones that are gonna help you make you feel like you are a person, you do matter. And you are important.

So, your perspective of whatever you’re facing is pretty much the first step.

And you start moving forward, and then your day gets brighter.

Because the moment you actually understand the power that you have inside, you’ll be amazed at how far you can go in life.

You’re still you.

Focus on what you want to do.

And just smile.

I have HIV. Now what?

After testing positive for HIV, the first step is to talk to a healthcare provider—even if you don't feel sick. Seeking medical care and starting HIV treatment right away helps you get off to a good start with important health benefits.

Living with HIV: Matthew | Think about what you can do

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Person discussing their HIV diagnosis with a healthcare practitioner.

What should I expect in my first appointment with a healthcare provider?

The information collected during your first visit is used to help make decisions about an HIV treatment for you. Your first visit with a healthcare provider may include:

  • A review of your health and medical history
  • A physical exam
  • Several lab tests

Starting treatment right away can offer important health benefits. Sticking with treatment is an important way to live healthier with HIV because it can help lower your viral load to undetectable, which means there is so little virus in the blood that a lab test can't measure it. Current research shows that taking HIV treatment as prescribed and getting to and staying undetectable prevents transmitting HIV through sex.

Talk to your healthcare provider to find out about treatment options that may easily fit into your routine.

Questions to ask your healthcare provider.

No questions are off-limits when you meet with them, and it's great to come prepared. Here are some questions to copy and save for your visit.

Cartoon image of patient discussing their HIV questions with a healthcare practitioner.
  • How will HIV treatment affect my life?
  • What are some goals for HIV treatment?
  • What can I do to stay healthy and avoid getting other sexually transmitted infections?
  • How can I prevent the transmission of HIV to others?
  • Are there any resources available that can help support my mental health as I start my HIV treatment?
  • What do I do if I need help paying for HIV medication?
Cartoon image of patient discussing their HIV questions with a healthcare practitioner.

I still have so many questions.
Where can I learn more?

For additional resources to help support you along your journey, including finding a healthcare provider, financial assistance, or mental health services, feel free to check out these resources.

There are many resources out there to help you manage your HIV diagnosis and stay encouraged through your treatment journey. For more information about HIV, please visit the National Institutes of Health.Go-to icon.