Treatment and Resources if you have HIV

If you take an HIV test and the results turn out positive it means that you have an HIV infection. At first, you may react with shock to your diagnosis. Then you might go through a period of denial. The good news? You should know that HIV is not a death sentence. HIV is a manageable chronic disease and people with HIV are now leading longer and healthier lives.

The first thing to do is try to find a doctor who has experience treating people with HIV. Your doctor will assess you and, depending on your situation, may start you on HIV medications right away. But remember that not everybody who has HIV has to take medications as soon as they are diagnosed with the virus.

If you do test positive for HIV, it will be important to eat properly, exercise and get plenty of rest. And since it can also be very stressful to find out that you have HIV, it may help to find a counsellor or someone who you can talk to about your diagnosis. Visit our section on Mental Health and Addictions for more information about seeking a counsellor.

When the time comes for you to start receiving treatment for HIV, remember that there are many benefits to early treatment: 

  • A person living with HIV will respond better to medications at a younger age;
  • A person being treated for HIV will reduce his/her chances of transmitting the HIV virus to others; 
  • Being treated for HIV with medications will reduce a person’s chance of developing other infections; and, most importantly,
  • A person who gets treatment for HIV reduces his/her chance of dying.

Treatment for HIV combines three or more powerful medications, called highly active antiretroviral therapy. Some patients may only need to take one pill per day. The key to successful treatment is to ensure that you take your medications regularly. That keeps the antiretroviral medications actively working against HIV and prevents the virus from resisting the drugs.

Here is an important point to remember: Treatment for people living with HIV in British Columbia is publicly funded by BC’s Ministry of Health.

Another important point affects patients with HIV who live in rural or remote areas in Northern BC. You do not have to worry about travelling long distances to ensure that you receive proper care for your HIV infection. You and your doctor can consult on your drug medications and other HIV concerns with a pharmacist and infectious disease specialist using Northern Health’s videoconferencing meetings.

To find out more information about HIV treatment, visit your doctor or local public health unit.

If you have any questions about HIV testing, or want to be tested for HIV, please see your family doctor or visit your local Public Health Unit.

Health Link BCFor more information visit HealthLink BC, a strong resource for non-urgent questions about illnesses and diseases, including HIV/AIDS, at www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile08m.stm

Please call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or TTY at 7-1-1 for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Registered Nurses can provide health information and advice at any time — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Translation services are available in 130 languages.

HIV101.ca is sponsored by the STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project which is funded by the Government of British Columbia supporting Northern Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority, Providence Health Care, and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. The STOP HIV/AIDS project aims to expand HIV testing, treatment, and support in British Columbia.
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