5.1. Life with HIV: how to live and cope with HIV?
The everyday life of a person with HIV infection doesn’t particularly differ from other people’s lives. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, HIV has become a chronic condition. People who are receiving the appropriate treatment and following a doctor’s recommendations are able to live a full life: HIV infection does not progress or develop into AIDS. Therefore, an infected person ages naturally and individuals who have HIV have the same life expectancy as those without the virus.
Each individual accepts an HIV diagnosis in his own way. Due to lack of information, diagnosis is very often perceived as a verdict. The message about HIV detection is stressful for many people. They feel confused and afraid to talk about it to anyone because of a fear to lose family and work. In order to deal with it, they need support from friends and loved ones, and, possibly, help from a psychologist.
Some people accept test results quite calmly and assess the situation calmly. They understand that the acceptance of the diagnosis will require time and effort.
Many countries have community centers providing assistance to people living with HIV. Everybody can receive comprehensive support and assistance in such centers. Usually, these centers offer a wide range of consultations, lectures and film screenings about HIV infection. They also operate various interest clubs. In addition, there are narrow communities of people living with HIV who work with groups engaging in risky behavior, namely, injectable drug users, commercial sex workers and men practicing sex with men (MSM).
It is important to remember that early HIV diagnosis makes it possible to get the disease under control with minimal consequences for health, get access to treatment, protect loved ones from possible exposure, and give birth to a healthy child.