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The Emotional impact of an HIV diagnosis

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The moment you learn you have HIV; your life is forever altered. You may feel a variety of emotions in the days, weeks, months, and years following your HIV diagnosis, including anger, shock, despair, and even denial. You might also experience depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that those with HIV are twice as likely to experience depression as those without the virus. HIV-positive individuals may isolate themselves from friends and family to hide their psychological and physical problems, which exacerbates the condition. As the virus may travel to the brain, doctors at NIMH and across the nation now understand that HIV itself may contribute to mental health issues. Unfortunately, several antiretroviral treatments (ART) used to treat HIV and AIDS can also bring on depressive symptoms.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, you’ll need to decide how to handle it on several levels. In the HIV clinic Sydney, post-test counselling is given. During this time, a medical expert or public health worker can go over the HIV resources that are available to you, give you tips on how to talk to current and past sexual partners, and show you the best self-care practices. At first, it will be challenging to take in all of this information, but if you can learn to concentrate, your chances of progressing healthily will increase.

Everyone has different coping mechanisms, and you’ll know your strategy is successful when any depressive or anxious symptoms start to fade. According to psychologist Mallory O. Johnson, PhD, a professor of medicine, “where people get into problems is if their coping mechanisms aren’t functioning and their suffering lingers.” Substance abuse is one of the highly destructive, bad coping mechanisms that some people utilise. People’s ability to cope is essential to their functioning, and functioning affects how they view their HIV and engage in their treatment. In other words, your chance of completing your treatment increases with how well you can deal with the news of your HIV diagnosis.

It can be extremely difficult for many HIV-positive individuals to decide whom to inform about their diagnosis. According to Dr Johnson, the best person to approach first is someone whose answer you can generally anticipate will be positive. These are frequently those who have first-hand knowledge of HIV, but they can also be close acquaintances or coworkers. It’s crucial to find at least one individual with whom you feel comfortable sharing your HIV status. Simply talking to someone can assist ease mental turmoil and let you focus more intently on finding solutions. Find someone else who can provide useful insight once you’ve opened up to at least one person, such as details regarding medical professionals, facilities, and therapies (including side effects). This usually entails signing up for a nearby or online support group.

It can be quite difficult if someone discovers they don’t know anyone who is HIV-positive or they haven’t informed individuals of their own HIV status, according to Johnson. If possible, attempt to connect with a support group. This aids in normalising the experience and gaining insight from those who have dealt with it. People with HIV are often afraid of losing friends and family because of the stigma attached to the disease. You have a moral obligation to let your sexual partners know if you have the virus. Post-HIV-test counselling can help you cope and build your support network.

Willian Tenney
the authorWillian Tenney