If you test positive for HIV it means you are carrying the HIV virus.
Each person reacts differently to this news. Some are shocked, while others aren’t that surprised. Most feel a need to talk about what it means to live with HIV, from several perspectives. The doctor or counsellor who gives the results is often highly experienced and skilled. Sometimes it feels better to talk to someone in the same situation. One way is to contact Posithiva Gruppen (website in Swedish only but address and phone number on start page) or Noaks Ark (some English on the website).
Having HIV is not a death sentence like it was in the 1980s. Today there are all kinds of antiretroviral drugs that are extremely effective and reduce HIV to a chronic infection, which can be managed for a long and healthy life. Medication cannot completely rid the body of the HIV virus, but it can keep it at very low levels.
Living with HIV does entail some restrictions and rules that people who are HIV negative don’t have to worry about. When you first test positive for HIV, two main restrictions come into play:
- You must not have anal or vaginal sex without a condom.
- You must inform your sexual partners of your HIV status.
Once your viral load has been undetectable at two consecutive follow-ups your doctor should free you of these restrictions. This should be noted on your records. If your doctor fails to do this, you should seek a second opinion, or contact their superior.
Some restrictions remain even after achieving undetectable viral load:
- You may not give blood or plasma or donate organs or sperm.
- You may not share or lend syringes or needles used to inject, say, heroin.
- You must go for repeat check-ups with your doctor, so you can check your virus levels and your health in general.