WHAT IF I TEST POSITIVE?
Everyone responds to a positive test result in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to handle the news. Today's treatments mean that many people living with HIV are leading long and active lives. HIV is no longer a death sentence. If you are on treatment, HIV is a serious but manageable health condition.
Knowing your HIV status for sure gives you the best chance of getting on top of the virus from the start. It means you can access treatment which significantly increases your life expectancy and is the best thing for your health.
Starting treatment as early as possible reduces your chances of serious health complications by over 50%. Also, many people are able to get their viral loads to undetectable [+U] within six months of starting treatment. If you are able to reach and sustain an undetectable viral load, there is virtually no chance that you will pass on HIV during unprotected sex.
There is a lot to take in when you are first diagnosed with HIV. Everyone will respond differently. You are likely to have lots of questions and want someone to talk to about any concerns that come up. In addition to your HIV specialist, there are counselling services available – it’s their job to support you.
The New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) provides counselling for free to anyone who is living with, or thinks they may be at risk of HIV, as well as their friends, partners and whānau. Counsellors are all trained, professionally qualified specialists. You can talk to them about anything that has come up - from relationship issues, to grief, anxiety, finances or how things are going at work.
If you live in Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington make an appointment with an HIV counsellor using this form. If you live outside those areas call the NZAF on 0800 802 437 and they will connect you with the HIV counselling service closest to you.
The NZAF and Body Positive run peer support groups for people living with HIV. These provide a place for people living with HIV to meet, share stories and support one another in a safe and confidential environment. If you are interested in participating in a peer support group get in touch on one of the phone numbers below.
Auckland (09) 309 5560
Wellington (04) 381 5560
Christchurch (03) 379 1953
There are a number of other peer support organisations out there too including The Institute of Many (TIM), +Kiwis, Body Positive, Maori, Indigenous & South Pacific & HIV AIDS Foundation (INA) and Positive Women.
Body Positive is a group founded by and run for people living with HIV/AIDS in New Zealand. Their services include counselling, free rapid HIV testing, massage therapy, budgeting services and support groups for younger and recently diagnosed people. Find out more about Body Positive support services here.