for Veterans and the Public
You just tested positive--now what?
First, understand the type of HIV test you received. With rapid HIV tests, a positive result must be confirmed by a second test, because falsely positive results sometimes happen.
If you are confirmed to have HIV, don't panic. A positive HIV test does not equal death: It means you need to take care of yourself to stay healthy. Many people who have been infected since the 1980s are alive today, living healthy and productive lives. The most important things you can do right now are:
- Start seeing a doctor or other health care provider. The VA is the nation's largest provider of HIV care and makes available to its patients all FDA-approved medications for the treatment of HIV and AIDS. Taking anti-HIV medications every day as prescribed is likely to keep you healthy for many, many years. And it will reduce your risk of infecting other people with HIV.
- Start treatment for HIV (antiretroviral therapy), unless there is a strong reason not to do so.
- Learn about HIV disease and how to take care of yourself.
- Make sure you show up at your medical appointments.
- Stay in close contact with your health care provider. Explain how you feel and what you're going through.
- Follow your doctor's instructions about lifestyle, diet and nutrition, and treatment.
- Ask for help or support.
- Now, read the section called Just Diagnosed.