Newly Diagnosed with HIV
Welcome to our new category ‘Living with HIV’.
For a long while now, we have been focussing on HIV diagnosis and helping people overcome the various misunderstandings and misinformation about excluding a HIV infection. However, more and more we find that people who are diagnosed with HIV often find themselves at a lost and searching for information. Often it is the unknown that scares and worries us the most. So the more you know, the less scared or anxious you will be.
So we decided to start this new category to educate people on what to do and expect if they truly are diagnosed with HIV.
We will be covering a broad range of topics from lifestyle changes to drug treatments, managing co-infections, legal implications etc etc.
For this first article, I would like to give some practical tips to a person who has just found out he/she has HIV.
First of all, yes it is a lot to deal with. If you are feeling scared and overwhelmed, that is completely natural. If it helps, just allow yourself to be overwhelmed for a while. Stay in your room, cry, stare at the ceiling or just lie there and let it overcome you.
But at the end of all of that, you must realize this one important fact: YOU WILL BE OK.
Try to put aside all your concerns about telling family and friends and your job etc. Focus on yourself. What is going to happen to you physically from now on?
The fact is you have an incurable disease. But then so do people with cancer and the one big difference is you are going to live a lot longer than the person with cancer. You are more like someone who has been diagnosed with Diabetes or High Blood Pressure. These are incurable disease too. But they can be controlled.
That’s right. Just like someone with Diabetes, if you, with HIV, listen to your doctor and stay with treatment, you will lead a normal life span. In other words, you will live as long as someone without HIV. The other good news is during these years, you will feel healthy and well.
The only caveat is that you need to be on medication for the rest of your life. But look at it this way, so does someone with Diabetes. And the poor Diabetic patient who does not take his meds will end up needing dialysis because of kidney failure, getting his legs amputated and getting half paralyzed from a stroke. That is arguably a much worse fate than someone with HIV not taking his meds.
So you will live long and healthy except you need to swallow some pills everyday. Not sounding so bad now is it?
So now what do you actually need to do? First of all pull yourself together. The time to be overwhelmed is over. Now is the time to take charge and face this problem head on.
First thing you need to do is to arrange to see a HIV specialist. That will be your first step in a lifetime of treatment. A long and healthy lifetime.
Our next article will be on what to expect during your first doctor’s visit.
There are several support groups in Singapore for people living with HIV.
For those of you who know of support groups in other countries, please add their details to the comments section below. Thanks!
Health Promotion Board
24-hour AIDS/STI Helpline 6295 2944 (pre-recorded in 4 languages)
AIDS/STI Information Hotline 1800 252 1324 (to speak to a counsellor during office hours)
Life Goes On 6254 0212
A self-help group that offers support to heterosexual men with HIV
Club Genesis 6254 0212
A self-help group that supports men who have sex with men
Muslim + 9835 1982
A peer group for Muslims living with HIV
AWARE 1800 774 5935 (Mon – Fri 3pm to 930pm)
Women’s action group that provides support for women for a variety of issues
Oogachaga – 6224 9373
Counseling service but not exclusively for HIV
About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.