for Veterans and the Public
Fear and anxiety
Fear and anxiety may be caused by not knowing what to expect now that you've been diagnosed with HIV, or not knowing how others will treat you after they find out you have HIV. You also may be afraid of telling people — friends, family members, and others — that you have HIV.
Fear can make your heart beat faster or make it hard for you to sleep. Anxiety also can make you feel nervous or agitated. Fear and anxiety might make you sweat, feel dizzy, or feel short of breath. Others experience anxiety and fear by avoidance behavior or feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed.
Ways to manage your feelings of fear and anxiety include the following:
- Talk to your provider about treatments for anxiety if the feelings don't lessen with time or if they get worse.
- Learn as much as you can about HIV.
- Start HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy, or ART). Taking action to control HIV will protect your health and the health of sex partners, and this in turn may lessen your fears about the future.
- Get your questions answered by your VA health care provider.
- Talk with your friends, family members, and health care providers.
- Join a support group.
- Help others who are in the same situation, such as by volunteering at an HIV service organization. This may empower you and lessen your feelings of fear.