for Veterans and the Public
If you are diagnosed with HIV, your physical health may not be the only concern you have to face. Along with the possibility of physical illness are mental health conditions that may come up. Mental health refers to the overall well-being of a person, including a person's mood, emotions, and behavior.
Many people have strong reactions when they find out they are HIV positive, including feelings such as fear, anger, and a sense of being overwhelmed. Often people may feel helpless, sad, and anxious about the illness, despite knowing that HIV can be treated. These feelings are normal. With time, hopefully, these feelings will fade--although we are not able to cure HIV we do have excellent treatments, and people with HIV usually lead long and full lives with the help of daily anti-HIV medications. But HIV can have a major impact on many parts of your life. People with HIV and those close to them may be subject to many things that may affect their mental health.
Some things to keep in mind about your feelings:
- No matter what you are feeling, you have a right to feel that way.
- There are no "wrong" or "right" feelings: feelings just are.
- Feelings come and go.
- You have choices about how you respond to your feelings.
There are many things you can do to deal with the emotional aspects of having HIV/AIDS. What follows are some of the most common feelings associated with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and suggestions on how to cope with these feelings. You may experience some, all, or none of these feelings, and you may experience them at different times.