Living Positively

SOCIALLY

What you can expect
Individuals with HIV are often frightened of the rejection, betrayal, and discrimination that can follow the disclosure of their status. When diagnosed with HIV, an individual is immediately faced with difficult decision of whom to tell and when to tell. They often struggle with realistic fears about how others will react to the news. In some cases they may be deserted or rejected by friends, lovers, or family members. These losses may occur at a time when people need stability, comfort and safety most in their lives. This may be more pronounced in circles of women who have sex with women, as you may feel alone, and different from the group. There are many WSW who are living and coping with HIV and AIDS and it may be possible to join a group of women in similar circumstances..
Other social difficulties stem from avoidance or fear of others, which increases the individual’s sense of isolation. Anxiety, depression and anger are often detrimental to interpersonal relationships. In addition, the individual may want to withdraw from any social contact, but this is likely to contribute to more stressors. Most people that are HIV positive feared that the HIV exposure would negatively affect established relationships. However this is not always the case. A strong network of family and friends can be important in helping a person living with HIV to cope with this adjustment.

What you can do
If you have tested positive, it is important to build on your personal support group (consisting of family, friends, colleagues, peers etc) and to try to live as normal as possible. This might not be easy after the diagnosis, but the sooner you start socializing, the better it will be for yourself and your health. Ask your Health Care Professional about a HIV support group. By joining a support group you can interact with other HIV positive clients. This is not only for support, but you can experience firsthand what other clients have already experienced and learn how to cope with these issues.