Staying Positive After a HIV Positive Diagnosis Leads to Longevity

Staying Positive After a HIV Positive Diagnosis is the Key to Longevity

People with AIDS and HIV are living much longer than was ever expected when these diagnoses first hit the scene. One of the reasons is the development of highly active antiretroviral therapies which started increasing in the late 1990s and the other is due to people learning to stay positive after being diagnosed HIV positive. Although some may be living longer there are many patients who are aging cognitively and physically faster than the rest of the population. As such they understand the importance of enjoying every day as the gift that it is.

Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a national awareness campaign titled, HIV Treatment Works. The campaign is geared to help the HIV community stay positive and “Get in Care, Stay in Care and Live Well.” Not only is the campaign designed to bring awareness to those within the HIV community on the importance of being informed but also to the outside “world” of onlookers.

When the disease first hit the United States people were afraid and immediately began planning to die. Primarily because the world of medicine was not as informed or enhanced as it is today. There were no real treatments available and no solid support groups, only the fear of the unknown and loads of rejection. Many people depleted their life savings and gave up career goals as they prepared to transition from this life to the next.

Things changed as the years passed and treatments improved while new ones were developed. People began realizing they just might have more time left than they thought. This however, presented new challenges such as trying to gain employment or live off disability. Keeping a positive attitude became more difficult and studies found many patients turned to drugs just to cope with these challenges. One patient who admitted to using meth said:

I felt like superman for a while because it took the depression and anxiety away. I could totally remove myself from all the anxieties I had for so many decades; it was like an escape.

Meth use had become so common that researchers in San Diego at the University of California, established the Translational Methamphetamine AIDS Research Center to study how the drug and virus affect the brain and central nervous system.

As people continued to live longer while losing their partners older HIV-infected patients developed survivor’s guilt. They did not feel as if they deserved to live which led to feelings of anxiety, depression and low self-worth. This is a common topic with support groups and online platforms for those living with the virus.

One platform in particular which has helped patients navigate life and stay positive after receiving a HIV positive diagnosis is PositiveSingles.com. Positive Singles is an online relationship site for those who have tested positively for a sexually transmitted disease. It is not just a dating site, but a place where people can gain information about a host of STDs, medical treatments and find much needed encouragement.

PositveSingles.com allows people the privilege of being true to themselves as they learn to navigate life with a new normal. The site provides several testimonials in hope of empowering its members to stay positive and realize life does not end because of an STD diagnosis. One member said:

I tested positive for HSV1 about three years ago. At the beginning it was very hard for me to comprehend and I thought my life was going to be over. I was afraid that I would never be able to have any more kids, find love, or have a normal life. As time went on I began to do research, so that I could become knowledgeable about the virus, and boy did everything change me. I was relieved to know that my life was not over and that HSV was not going to control my life after all!! My life is great right now, and I have no complaints, things could be a lot worse. HSV doesn’t define me as a person, and it will not hold me back. Life is too short.

Another positive member of the site said:

Thanks to this site I have met some amazing people whom I consider my friends. For a while I had shut down but I’m back and ready to spread the joys of everything good that’s going on in my life. Having Herpes can bring minor setbacks but with the education and support you find here, you will come to know that it is not so bad. Just keep moving forward; there are so many resources here to aid in the process. There is just no other way to go but full speed ahead and I am glad to be back.

It is support like this that encourages the HIV positive community to live beyond their diagnosis. Positive Singles was created to eliminate the stigma associated with STDs and provide success stories from people who have not given up and are living life well. Many have learned to stay positive after receiving a HIV positive diagnosis by realizing the life does not end with an STD.

By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)

Human Rights Campaign
Newsweek
Positive Singles

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