Ask an Expert: How Can I Best Manage My HIV Diagnosis?

This article is part of Health Divide: HIV, a destination in our Health Divide series.

Ask an expert: Dr. Shepherd

Xiaoyu Liu / Verywell

Verywell Health: How can I best manage my HIV diagnosis?

Dr. Shepherd: The first and most important step in getting HIV stabilized is to make sure that you have a good relationship with your healthcare provider. Today, after so much HIV research has been done, an undetectable viral load is possible. It really comes down to being consistent with your healthcare provider visits and making a commitment to taking your medication as prescribed.

HIV is not what it used to be. People with HIV can live long, happy lives. The reason that’s possible now is because of the medication treatment options, but also being consistent with that treatment regimen so that you can have undetectable viral loads.

HIV causes other stressors too, including disclosing your status. Whether people do choose to share their status—which we advocate for—or don’t share their status, it takes an emotional toll. It’s something you will have to discuss with your past, present, and future sexual partners. Having to share their diagnosis can be stressful for people.

Coping with an HIV diagnosis also requires a lot of emotional support. That support can come through support groups that you can find in your community, in your family, or with friends.

Managing life with HIV means understanding that emotional health is a big part of managing the physical condition itself.