Where is the light?, What else do I have to live for?, Who’s going to help me? Can I even get married? What if someone finds out? How do I face people? I’ll suffer in shame. I’m dying! These are the questions from an ignorant heart gripped by fear.
Yes, HIV/AIDS is real, you tested positive, there’s no cure yet, you’re afraid of the stigma from society, life is practically flashing before you, you no longer have a sense of purpose and so you gave up. Now is not the time to wallow in self pity and regret. Take a look at the bigger picture, there’s a whole lot ahead of you. Do not be misled by the notion; testing positive to HIV is the end of your life.
A lot of work has been and is still being done in managing HIV positive individuals. With modern medications, many persons with HIV live long healthy lives. Getting linked to medical care early, starting treatment with HIV medication called antiretroviral therapy, adhering to medications and staying in care can keep the virus under control and stop it from developing to AIDS. There may be no effective cure for HIV but with proper medical care, it can be controlled.
The amount of HIV in the blood is referred to as Viral Load, taking medications as prescribed will help reduce the viral load and this is termed Viral Suppression. Viral Suppression is said to be having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood . The medications can reduce the viral load in such a way that a test can not detect it and this occurrence is known as undetectable viral load. Skipping medications would only mean giving the virus a chance to multiply and this can destabilize the immune system. Attaining and sustaining an undetectable viral load is the best way to stay healthy and protect others.
Also, having a good balanced diet, keeping fit with regular exercise helps to maintain the normal function of the immune system. It is important to develop a healthy, positive lifestyle as this will improve the quality of life ultimately.
In addition, being part of a support group greatly helps, you can share experiences, in a non- judgemental and safe environment. Group meetings provide education, understanding and hope. Meeting with other positives creates a platform of equity and a sense of belonging which brings about emotional support.
Other measures include: practicing safer sex, having adequate rest, avoiding drug abuse, avoiding smoking and drinking and counselling like what you’re having now.
Thank you for this wealth of knowledge her client said. She smiled and nodded in affirmation. She feels fulfilled, she came face to face with her fear of death, she overcame and is now helping other positives like herself to live a prolonged and fulfilled life.
Gaining the right knowledge is key but consistently practicing what you have learnt opens the door of possibilities.