When you are newly diagnosed with HIV, you often have many questions. Make sure you get good quality, impartial and well-informed information about HIV to help you make good decisions regarding your health and treatment. Staffordshire Buddies and other professionals are there to provide you with that support and information and will be non-judgemental and confidential. To get the best support tell us how you genuinely feel, if you feel anxious then tell us, if you take medication, or self-medicate, or take recreational drugs we are here to work with you. You may also be anxious about disclosure, relationships and sex we don’t judge and we are here to provide the support you want.

Self-esteem and HIV

Self-esteem is an essential ingredient in creating and maintaining hope, health and a good quality of life with HIV. However, many of us with HIV may have problems with self-esteem.

Feelings of guilt whether rational or not can be very damaging. Low self-esteem can prevent those of us with HIV caring for ourselves. If you do not feel good about yourself, you may not do the things you need in order to keep yourself healthy.

If it is not possible to talk to your friends and family about any issues and you need support, we are here for you as well as a variety of agencies that may be able to help.

Here are some very simple steps to stay healthy:

Eat a balanced diet If you are taking HIV medication it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to ensure your body is receiving the sufficient sources of energy, fibre and nutrients that it needs. Find out what gives you energy, what are good fats and what foods help the skin? Vitamins for example in fresh fruit and vegetables will ensure that your body is getting what it needs to stay healthy as possible.

Take Regular Exercise Regular exercise can improve not only your physical health but also your mental health and wellbeing. Exercise is known to make you feel good; relieve stress, depression and anxiety. It can help you feel re-energised and even improve your sleep. Remember walking, running and dancing are also forms of exercise. Have a think and get into a routine that is healthy. Living with HIV can be very stressful so make sure you make time in your day to relax and clear your mind.

Stop Smoking Studies suggest that people living with HIV are more likely to smoke than the average population, the earlier you stop; the better it is for your health.

Rest and Sleep It is important to get enough sleep as it will help you to maintain your physical and mental health. Do give yourself time to rest and sleep. Remember taking stimulants like coffee or alcohol can delay sleep. Get plenty of rest. Sleep is vital as your body needs to concentrate on healing itself. It’s good to get a regular eight hours sleep every night.

Get Support Your mental health and wellbeing is important, when diagnosed and living with HIV it may have an emotional impact on you at this time, your family, friends, Staffordshire Buddies and other professionals can offer a source of support guidance and practical help.

Take your medication Evidence suggests that the HIV treatments available in the UK can enable you to live a long and healthy life, and it is therefore very important for you to adhere to your treatment. By taking your medication at the right time and following guidance about food intake and nutrition you can take positive steps toward a healthy life.

Talking about HIV

People living with HIV may find it difficult to disclose their status as they may worry that people will reject them, or that they may experience prejudice from friends, family and colleagues.

People living with HIV can also experience discrimination in their workplace, in healthcare settings (e.g. GP’s and dentists), from members of their local community and through the media. Just to remember that if you are living with HIV your rights are protected under the Equality Act, by Staffordshire Buddies and other healthcare professionals can support you and tell you your legal rights.

Disclosing your status is a very personal decision and is a complex topic. Telling an employer is very different from telling a sexual partner, and different again from telling a friend. At the end of the day, you have the final decision of when, how and even if you want to disclose your status. At Staffordshire Buddies we are here to work with you and provide with others confidential and non-judgemental services.