Day One: After You've Tested Positive

doctor holding hiv test tube
A positive HIV test is scary news…but it’s no longer a 100% death sentence. As better therapies continue to be developed, it’s entirely possible to live a more normal life. The key? Being informed and taking charge of your health.

Despite all the support you will get, particularly in the beginning, the real work is up to you. Given the right attitude and the right information, most people can live longer than they could when HIV/AIDS cases were first being diagnosed.

After your positive diagnosis, you need to do:

  • Develop a strategy to adapt to your new situation.
  • Learn more about HIV and how it can affect you.
  • Understand the medical tests you’ll use.
  • Find ways to promote and maintain your health.

HIV and Your Immune System

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Being HIV-positive does not mean that you have AIDS, but it does mean that you may develop AIDS. HIV attacks your immune system, gradually impairing how it functions.

Your immune system helps keep your body healthy by recognizing and attacking foreign substances, like viruses or bacteria. Over time, if it becomes seriously damaged or weakened by HIV, your body loses its ability to fight certain infections and cancers. These are called oppor­tunistic infections (OIs).