AIDS Affairs: I tested positive for HIV, now what?

May 03, 2016


Dear Counsellor,

I just tested positive for HIV a few weeks ago when I went to an outreach testing site. Since then, I have been trying very hard to grasp this sudden news. I know of treatment options, but I was just too shocked to hear much of what the counsellor at the testing centre was saying to me. Now that I am home I am beginning to hear in my mind some of what she was saying. I also remembered reading a few articles about HIV, but I have never really found myself caught up with seeking information. Please tell me a little about how to proceed from here and what to expect. Thank you for your kind advice.

HIV Infected

Dear HIV Infected,

It is very natural for you to feel overwhelmed when you first hear that you tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It is very important for you to see an HIV-knowledgeable doctor. The doctor will ask you many questions about your medical history, conduct a physical examination and order various medical tests.

This is also a good time to ask all of the questions you may have about living with HIV and various treatment options available to you.

Your doctor will want to know how HIV is affecting your system, so the initial medical tests ordered will give a better understanding of how the HIV virus is affecting your immune system. Two of the most important tests will be a CD4 count and a viral load test. Based on your medical history, your doctor will determine the best medication options for you. The results of all of these tests will provide a baseline measurement for future tests.

Your provider may also order some other tests:

• Complete blood count

• Blood chemistry profile (including liver and kidney function tests)

• Urinalysis

• Tests for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

• Tests for other infections, such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, or toxoplasmosis.

Your doctor may also refer you to other health care providers, such as an HIV-knowledgeable counsellor. The counsellor will help you to cope emotionally and mentally and further help you to understand what it means to be HIV positive. In the meantime, you must know that safer sexual practice is very important. You must now take steps to protect your sexual health and those of your love ones.

For more information on condom use, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, call the AIDS/STD Helpline toll free at


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