Newly HIV+?: Start Here
Maybe you have tested HIV-positive very recently; maybe you've known it for some time; maybe this is the first time you've reached out for information or support. You need to know that you are not alone. There are more than 1 million HIV-positive people in the United States. Know that you are not alone. Take a deep breath. Feel what you need to. Accept the help that is here for you.
Many HIV-positive people now live fulfilling and happy lives. Many are healthy and show no symptoms of disease. Many choose to take treatments and drugs that promise to lengthen their lives. So, as serious as this is, there is hope. You do not have to look at testing HIV-positive as if you've been given a death sentence.
It's a good thing you found this out. As upsetting as testing positive may have been for you, you are better off knowing, so you can learn about HIV and decide what you want to do about it. The fact that you cared enough about yourself to get the HIV test and the fact that you are reading this now show that you are concerned about your health. So give yourself some credit. You have taken important first steps to take care of yourself, and you should be glad about it.
Years ago, those who tested HIV-positive had few places to turn for support. These people felt like they were hanging in limbo. Fortunately, much has changed. We know more about HIV now and many organizations have formed around the world to offer support and information to people living with this virus. Many have already faced the questions inherent in living with HIV, and many will follow. You don't have to face this by yourself. There are lots of hands reaching out to assist you.
Positive Force staff are available to help find resources for these first steps. There are also several hotlines you can call to get immediate information:
National AIDS Hotline: 800-342-AIDS (2437)
Information and referrals to local hotlines, testing centers, and counseling. Open 24/7.
AIDS Hotline in Spanish: 800-344-SIDA (7432)
Open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. EST, seven days a week.
AIDS Hotline for the Hearing Impaired: 800-243-7889 (TDD)
Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday
Modified from “You Are Not Alone” By Jim Lewis and Michael Slocum, December 31, 1982 (Revised January 12, 2009 by thebody.com)