Living with HIV

In addition to taking effective HIV treatment, there are many things you can do to improve your overall health and therefore reducing your risk of falling ill.These include:

  • taking regular exercise
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • stopping smoking
HIV may affect your life in other ways such as:

  • you won’t be able to donate blood or organs
  • you won’t be able to join the armed forces
  • you may have difficulty getting life insurance or a mortgage. Unusual Risks are the UK’s leading HIV Life Assurance and HIV Mortgage Specialists.
    Further information can be found here.
  • there are some countries you won’t be able to visit

Psychological impact of HIV


HIV is a long-term condition. You will be in regular contact with your healthcare team, who will review your treatment on an ongoing basis.

It is important to develop a good relationship with your healthcare team to ensure you can easily discuss your symptoms or concerns.

Psychological support

Kernow Positive Support can provide you with counselling so you can fully discuss your condition and any concerns you may have in a confidential and non-judgemental environment.

Telling people about your HIV

Telling your partner and former partners

If you are HIV positive, it is important that your current sexual partner and any sexual partners you’ve had since becoming infected are tested and treated.

It is usual for people to feel upset or embarrassed about discussing HIV with their current or former partners. If you have any concerns, you can discuss them with Helen, our Support Worker at Kernow Positive Support, your clinic staff, or alternatively call our helpline on 01208 264 866.

Although nobody can force you to tell any of your partners you have HIV, it is strongly recommended that you do.

HIV can have devastating consequences if left untested and untreated, and eventually can lead to serious illness and death.

Telling your employer

People with HIV are protected under the Equality Act (2010).

You have no legal obligation to tell your employer that you have HIV. This is unless you have a front-line job in the armed forces or work in a healthcare role where you perform invasive procedures.

You may worry that your HIV status will become public knowledge, or you’ll be discriminated against if you tell your employer. However, on the other hand, if your boss is supportive, telling them may make it easier for adjustments to be made to your workload or for you to have time off.

For more information please look at the following website:

Pregnancy and HIV

There is HIV treatment available which prevents a pregnant woman from passing HIV on to her child.

With treatment, the chance your baby will become infected with HIV dramatically decreases compared to without treatment.

It is always best to discuss the risks and options available with your midwife and staff at your HIV clinic.

If you have HIV, you will be advised to not breastfeed your baby as the virus can be transmitted through breast milk.


If you or your partner has HIV, options may be available that allow you to conceive a child safely. You should ask the staff at your HIV clinic for advice.

If you are HIV positive and become pregnant, you will need to contact your HIV clinic.

This is important because:

  • some HIV treatments can be harmful to your unborn baby, so your treatment plan will need to be reviewed
  • additional medicines may be needed to prevent your baby contracting HIV

Opportunistic infections

Infection risk

You may be at risk of developing infections that you wouldn’t normally be at risk of, as your immune system has been damaged by the HIV.

People with HIV have a higher risk of developing infections such as:

HIV treatment is important in reducing your risk of cancer and long-term conditions, such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease. If you smoke, giving up is also important in reducing this risk.

Money and financial support

If you have to stop work or reduce your working hours because of HIV, you may find it financially difficult.

Financial support is available and you may be entitled to one or more of the following:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to SSP from your employer for 28 weeks.
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to ESA (now may be called Universal Credit in your area).
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – if you cant work due to your illness. Only available to those under 16 years. Individuals over the age of 16 are currently being transferred to PIP.
  • Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – Two components – mobility and daily living. You may be eligible for this if you are 64 years and under and need help with day-to-day life.

For more information on financial support available, please contact Helen, our Support Worker on 01872 258 453