I have HIV, where can I get support and encouragement?
For people living with HIV knowing where to go and who to turn to for support can be a challenge on it’s own, although there are a few places and people one can turn to for support and encouragement.
In all, if not most health care facilities, or Comprehensive Care Centers (CCC), your first support system will be your health care provider, they are trained and equipped with information and have knowledge of how to go about handling patients who are diagnosed with HIV. During each visit you can be able to talk to them about how you feel and how the medication is taking you, how it is affecting you mentally and socially. They will be that listening ear and become a supportive friend as well as the health care provider.
Through that the health care provider can also link you up to a support group, it is people from the same CCC who are also living with HIV where they get to share experiences, best practices when manoeuvring through sexual experiences, relationships, new beginnings, challenges and even provide a sense of community and alienate the loneliness that is experienced by people living with HIV.
Family and friends can also be your support system, although this will have to go hand in hand with the aspect of disclosure, as one needs to understand disclosure is a personal decision and not everyone needs to know about your health status.
Family and friends can be your biggest support system and even come off as accountability partners where they can help you in making sure you are taking care your medication, you are not missing doctor’s appointments and you have a listening ear whenever you need someone to talk to.
Even through this you might find a close relative or friend who has been living with HIV for some time and they can be able to hold your hand as you discover your own path.
You can also look on the social scene of people who have publicly come out and are publicly living with HIV and use their teachings and experiences and knowledge in managing your own health, they can be very influential and you can emulate their success story to make yourself a success story.