Coming to terms with an HIV diagnosis and learning to live well with it is not something you need to go through on your own. Here are ways you can stay connected and organisations you can go to for help.
You’re not alone
Coming to terms with an HIV diagnosis and learning to live well with it is not something you need to go through on your own. There are counsellors, peer support groups, specialists and doctors you can access for free at any time. Though it may feel difficult at first, telling partners, relatives and close friends can help you feel supported and make decisions about treatments, lifestyle changes and how to keep healthy.
There’ll be good and bad days
Particularly to begin with, the way you feel about your HIV diagnosis may change depending on the day. This is a natural reaction to stress, shock and change. Some days you may feel like you are mourning and, to some extent, you may be. For most people, getting used to a future that includes living with a chronic manageable illness can provide some ups and downs. Take each day as it comes and know that gradually you will adapt to this change in your life.
It helps to talk
Many people feel they can only talk about the big, important medical or life-and-death issues. Yet you might notice little fears creeping in, or you might have questions you think are silly. Remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. The more you feel like you can talk about anything to your spouse, counsellor, friend or doctor, the easier you will find it to move on with living well with HIV.
HIV-related stigma still exists and is often fuelled by misconceptions and fear around HIV. Having honest conversations about experiences of stigma is vital to feel supported. Stigma adds to isolation, fear and misinformation about HIV. If you are scared of or feel you are experiencing stigma, talk to someone about how to deal with it.
Where to get help
New Zealand AIDS Foundation
The New Zealand AIDS Foundation provides HIV tests, free counselling, HIV prevention, and HIV research.
Sexual Health Services
Sexual Health Services are available from all DHBs across the country. They are a specialist service offering free and confidential sexual health care.
Body Positive is an organisation founded by and run for people with HIV/AIDS. Body Positive provides a broad range of services in an attempt to break down the sense of isolation HIV+ people often experience and to build a sense of community and wellbeing.
Positive Women Inc. is a support organisation for women and families living with HIV and AIDS. They are also involved in HIV advocacy, awareness and destigmatisation.
INA Māori, Indigenous and Pacific Island HIV/AIDS Foundation
INA is an organisation working with Māori, Indigenous and Pacific Island communities to raise awareness and advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS.
UNAIDS is the joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS, an innovative partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV information and prevention.
Ministry of Health
The Ministry of Health provides information about HIV and AIDS in New Zealand. Information includes answers to frequently asked questions, recommendations for HIV testing of adults in healthcare settings, research, and publications.
NAM/AIDSmap work to change lives by sharing information about HIV and AIDS. They provide independent, clear and accurate information on HIV free of charge.
Youthline is a free phone, email and text service providing support for young people and their families.
youthline.co.nz 0800 376 633
OUTLine is a free, confidential telephone counselling service for the LGBTIQ+ community. They also provide face-to-face counselling services.
outline.org.nz 0800 688 5463