10 steps to stay HIV negative

SAFETY FIRST

If it’s oral, anal or vaginal it should be wrapped up before any penetration.

IDENTIFICATION

Know who you are and where your values lie. Confidence plays a great role not only in getting that sexy new catch, but also in standing firm in your decisions to protect yourself and your partners.

NEGOTIATION

Discuss HIV and safer sex with your partners before sex. This can help steer what kind of sex you have.

EDUCATION

Attending an HIV 101 course can give you a better idea what HIV is, how it works and just how it is transmitted.

PREPARE

If you’re going out for a night on the town and planning to party, take condoms with you. You never know where your night might lead. Alcohol and drugs reduce inhibitions, but if you’re prepared, you’ll be more likely to use protection.

CREATIVITY

So, you found that lucky partner and you’ve made it to bed, but they refuse to use protection. Knowing interesting and safe alternatives to penetration such as mutual masturbation and frottage can eliminate risk while still getting the goal.

AFFIRMATION

It may be a cliché term, but knowing how valuable your health and financial resources are can play a great part in staying safe.

REALITY

New drugs now available lessen the negative side effects of taking medications. However, most people don’t take into consideration the cost of the drugs, the cost and frequency of doctors visits and frequent blood draws for lab work. Treatment is still costly, time consuming and physically and emotionally draining.

STD/STI

Having another infection such as syphilis or gonorrhea can greatly increase your chances of becoming infected with HIV. Pay attention to your body or better yet, if you’re sexually active consider getting regular STD checkups. Getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and B can also be a great ally.

TESTING

Get tested. Period. If you are sexually active and always have protected sex you should still be tested annually. If you have unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex, you should get an HIV test every three to six months.

What to do if you find out you’re positive

GET GROUNDED

Find support through friends, family, therapists, medical professionals or any combination of these. Without support, taking any additional steps can seem even more difficult and trying. Support groups can help bring a sense of camaraderie and fellowship to a seemingly lonely experience.

GUIDE YOUR TONGUE

Not everyone will be supportive. Initially, share this information with those whom you can trust to be uplifting and those whom will help you along your way to treatment and safety.

HEALTH CARE

Start identifying ongoing care and treatment resources. This can be a daunting task without help. Testing counselors can point you in the right direction whether you have insurance, a doctor or you need full assistance.

EDUCATION

Knowing what ails you can be a great tool in battling the virus. HIV 101 and treatment courses can be a great resource to understanding what the virus is, what lab results actually mean, and what to expect and look for as your body changes, and what treatment options are available.

DISCLOSURE

In Georgia there are laws surrounding the obligation to disclose, and it’s the nice thing to do. Telling previous partners who may have been exposed is a requirement and can also help them to identify early on whether they are infected. Telling current and future partners also reduces their risk of exposure.

REINFECTION

Studies show that HIV-positive people who continue to have unprotected sex may actually become infected with a strain of the virus that is resistant to some medications and may cause complications with treatment in the future.

RECREATION

And we don’t mean on the playground. Be aware of your drug, alcohol and tobacco use. These things can have a serious impact on your health and can have devastating consequences for an HIV positive individual.

SEX POSITIVE

Having intimate moments does not have to come to an end. Sex can and will still be hot after an HIV-positive diagnosis. Remember to protect yourself since STDs are still a risk and can be more difficult to treat with a compromised immune system. Not to mention, you don’t want to run the risk of potentially passing the infection on to someone else.

LIFESTYLE

Keeping fit and healthy can naturally prolong the quality of life and assist in any ongoing medical treatment. Healthy diet and regular exercise are key to the body’s health in general and can also help eliminate stress.

WHERE’S YOUR HEAD?

Having a positive outlook, lowered stress and an increase in coping skills (through support groups, counseling or other means) can leave your body with more energy and resources to handle the infection. Studies have shown that times of lower stress actually correspond to a healthier immune system. Look for programs and services to help you de-stress and get grounded.

 

Source: Positive Impact / MISTER (Men’s Information Services: Testing, Empowerment, Resources) www.positiveimpact-atl.org

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