WHO TO TALK TO?
It is normal to have questions when you find out about your HIV status. As you grow older, and have new life experiences, you may have even more questions. Sometimes living with HIV can feel lonely or confusing. It’s important to know that there are a range of people who can support you and help you understand more about HIV and living well:
Your HIV clinic/healthcare team:
You can talk to your doctors and nurses about your treatment and how you feel about it. They are keen to know how your life, beyond HIV, impacts how you manage your health. Ask them any questions you might have about what HIV is, how your medication works and tell them if you have any difficulty taking it. There may be a few months between your appointments, so it can be helpful to write down any questions you have so that you don’t forget them.
You may want to talk to the people in your everyday life, perhaps so they can understand how HIV affects you or so you understand how it impacts them. If you have friends who are not HIV positive, you may want them to understand what it’s like living with HIV. You may want to talk to your parents/carers more openly about HIV in the home or understand what it’s like to be an adult with HIV. If you have been to Freedom 2 Be camp (or other HIV support services), you may find that you know more up-to-date HIV information than some of the people in your personal life. Prepare yourself for that, as conversations may require a bit more patience. You can get support from organisations like CHIVA to have these conversations.
CHIVA/other HIV charities:
You can get support from us on a range of things from HIV information to how to talk to other people about your HIV. We offer a space to talk about how you’re feeling and to connect with other young people just like you. There are a range of ways you can get involved with CHIVA, from one-to-one support, to arts projects and support camps. Get in touch with us if you would like to get involved in one of our projects.
You could also use this checklist tool we created as a prompt for topics you would like to cover in your appointment.
Even non-HIV specialised organisations maybe able to help. Free confidently counselling in your area can be found at https://www.youthaccess.org.uk/services/find-your-local-service
The above film shares experiences of talking to others and gives advice about how to approach HIV communication with young people and others.