What if I test HIV positive?


If you test positive, the sooner you take steps to protect your health, the better. Early medical treatment, a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude can help you stay well. Prompt medical care may delay the onset of AIDS and prevent some life-threatening conditions. It is important to know that a positive HIV test should always be confirmed, to be sure that it is a true positive. If your test result is positive, there are a number of important steps you can take immediately to protect your health:

  • See a doctor, even if you don’t feel sick. Try to find a doctor who has experience treating HIV. There are now many new drugs to treat HIV infection. There are important tests, immunizations and drug treatments that can help you maintain good health. It is never too early to start thinking about treatment possibilities.
  • Have a tuberculosis (TB) test done. You may be infected with TB and not know it. Undetected TB can cause serious illness. TB can be treated successfully if detected early.
  • Recreational drugs, alcoholic beverages and smoking can weaken your immune system. There are programs available to help you stop.
  • Consider joining a support group for people with HIV infection or finding out about other resources available in your area, such as HIV/AIDS-knowledgeable counselors for one on one therapy. There are also many newsletters available for people living with HIV and AIDS.
  • There is much you can do to stay healthy. Learning as much as you can is a step in the right direction. Local and/or national resources may be available. Many HIV/AIDS organizations provide services free or on a sliding scale, based on ability to pay.

Call the CDC National AIDS Hotline for more information and referrals at 1-800-342-2437 (English), 1-800-344-7432, (Spanish), or 1-800-243-7889 (TTY).

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