If you're newly-diagnosed as HIV positive, the chances are good that you're going to need some support. We encourage you to find the support you need.
Many of us have been raised on the idea of "rugged individualism," and believe that we must face hard things on our own, and that doing so means we're "strong." Some people feel as if asking for help or reaching out for support are indications of weakness. Consequently, a very common response to testing positive for HIV is withdrawal. We isolate ourselves, hiding the news of our status. This can be very painful.
Your life does not have to be doom and gloom. It is possible to have a very positive attitude as a person living with HIV -- millions are doing it right now -- but it is much more difficult to get on with your life and live happily and healthily if you're trying to do it alone.
There's no need for you to handle this by yourself, and it's probably a mistake even to try to do it. You are not the only person facing this. Learn who the others are and what they have to offer. Just hearing how someone else has adjusted to living with the virus can be enough to help you realize that life is still good, that you can still have love and laughter. And you may also be surprised to learn that your own sharing can help others. In sharing the issues that concern us, each of our voices lends strength to the others.
Support groups are a powerful means of learning to cope with this new beginning. There are support groups offered by HIV/AIDS organizations across the country. If you don't know of an HIV/AIDS organization in your area, call the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Healthline at 1-800-232-4636. If there's no support group in your area, you may be just the person to get one started. Just remember: those millions of people living successfully with HIV are people who've reached out to get the help they needed. Wherever you are, you can find support, or the means to create it. It just doesn't make sense for us to face the same issues without helping each other out. We are not alone. And neither are you.
Contact Positive Force staff for more information on finding community and getting support.