Coping with a positive HIV Test


Learning that you have HIV can be shocking, but people with HIV can live a long and healthy life. HIV is a manageable long-term condition but being tested early is essential to getting appropriate healthcare and treatment.


When you get your test results, you may feel a range of emotions. This could include shock, numbness, denial, anger, sadness and frustration. It is perfectly normal and understandable to feel any of these. Knowing the truth could also make you feel some relief.

Isolation and feeling alone are also normal feelings, even if you have family and friends around you. Whatever you feel, you don’t have to go through it alone, and there are ways Kernow Positive Support can help you.


The test result

You are usually told your result in person. The doctor, nurse or health adviser will an additional HIV test to confirm the result, assess your current health and refer you to specialist HIV services like Kernow Positive Support.

They will also talk to you about your feelings and tell you where you can get support.

The doctor, nurse or health adviser will also talk about safer sex.

Find out more about preventing the transmission of HIV here.


Educating yourself

After receiving your positive result, you may feel shocked and unable to take everything in. It is normal to feel this way. You will not have to remember everything immediately.

You will be given written information, and you can always ask your doctor any questions you may have or contact our helpline on 01208 264 866 where a person who is living with HIV will be able to answer any questions you may have.

It could be a benefit to find out as much as you can about HIV, its treatments and their side effects. It could help you comes to terms with your diagnosis.

Up-to-date, accurate information is available from national services such as:


Learning to cope

Learning to accept your HIV positive status can be the first step to coping. Remember, although HIV is not curable, it is treatable.

HIV treatments have immensely improved since those dreaded 1980’s adverts, and this means that HIV is now a manageable long-term condition.

You may think that you will be ill 24 hours a day which will result in you not being able to work, however this is not necessarily the case. A lot of people continue working and do not have to give up sex and relationships.

If you don’t feel you can talk to friends or family, try talking to a counsellor, or call our helpline on 01208 264 866.

The Sexual Healthline may also help you on 0300 123 7123.


Telling people you’re HIV positive

Talking to people about what you are going through can help, think carefully about who you tell about your diagnosis.

Ask yourself why you want to tell them and think of the potential consequences, for example if they tell someone else. If you decide to tell them, think about how you will answer any questions they might ask, such as ‘How did you get it?’ “When did you get it?”

You may find it beneficial meeting or speaking with other people who are living with HIV.

Our helpline on 01208 264 866 is staffed by someone who is living with HIV who will be there to answer any queries or concerns you may have.


If you’re feeling depressed

It is normal to feel as though you are not coping and to stop enjoying being with friends and family. You may feel sad or have trouble sleeping.

If these feelings last a long time or you continue to feel overwhelmed by them, you may have depression. Get help as soon as possible as you may need treatment.

Kernow Positive Support can offer you counselling and your GP will be able to help you with treatment for depression.


Diagnosis during pregnancy

All pregnant women in the UK are routinely offered a HIV test as part of antenatal care. If you find out you are HIV positive when you are pregnant, Kernow Positive Support and your midwife will support you and help reduce the risk to your baby. It is possible to give birth to an HIV negative baby.