If you are infected…

Perception of information about HIV-positive status can dramatically change a person’s emotional state. Everyone has their own personality, and the emotions accompanying the disease don’t always develop according to the same pattern. Sometimes the first reaction is a shock, which can last from a brief moment to several days. During this stage, emotions can vary from a stupor-like state to mixed feelings.

After the shock comes the second stage, during which strong feelings are manifested. Such feelings can be, for example, anger, guilt, despair, fear and sadness. The fact of having become infected seems unfair and unreasonable. Anger can be directed either at the virus or one’s sexual partner. Sometimes anger can be directed at a complete stranger, for example, a doctor or a consultant.

After this comes the stage of trying to improve one’s state, and the person’s thoughts are again oriented towards the future. The realization that you can survive with the infection for years, and that your studies and work can continue, helps to move forward. Although the virus cannot be fully controlled, you can control your own life.

In the course of the development of the disease, people can face new complex situations. Symptoms of the disease proliferate, and the continuous replacement of medications can lead to the understanding that it will be necessary, for example, to give up some of one’s hobbies. It may even happen that during the course of the illness the inevitability of having to give up most of one’s hobbies, and the resulting sadness become the dominant feelings. It helps to have someone to talk to.

For some of the infected, the sense of panic or depression is very real. Depression can result from the drugs used to treat HIV and other diseases, as well as from drinking alcohol. The impact of HIV on the central nervous system can also lead to a state of depression. It is important to remember that severe depression can be cured. Tell your doctor or nurse about your feelings and ask for psychotherapeutic help right away when you feel that you need it.

Previous life experience and overall mental state affect how a person will cope with their life. An important part of the way out of this situation is the support provided by other people, and the opportunity to share one’s feelings with someone.

HIV and AIDS evoke strong feelings and reveal the attitude of our society towards sexuality, sickness and death. There are still people in our society who think that HIV infection is a disease of only certain specific groups of people. This is not the case, because HIV does not select its victims. The virus does not discriminate between people, it can touch each one of us. HIV does not consider one’s gender or age, HIV does not consider one’s education or income. There are people living with HIV in all countries and on every continent, among all nationalities and races. There are both young and old, tall and short people among them; some of them have higher education and some are illiterate; some are poor and some rich.