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You just tested positive--now what?

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 were infected in 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.
  • Start treatment for HIV (antiretroviral therapy), unless there is a strong reason not to do so. Taking anti-HIV medications every day as prescribed is likely to keep you healthy for many, many years. And it will minimize your risk of infecting other people with HIV.
  • Learn more about HIV and about 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.