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Getting a positive HIV test

Getting a positive HIV test can be a shock and you may feel overwhelmed.

  • A positive HIV test does not mean you have, or that you will get AIDS
  • HIV is now a manageable condition, not a terminal illness. Most people who have HIV, live long and productive lives
  • You are not alone. Positive Women Inc. is an organisation specifically supporting women and families living with HIV in Aotearoa New Zealand Phone: 09 303 0094 Free phone: 0800 POZTIV 0800 769 848

It is important to remember:

  • You can still be hugged, touched and touch others
  • You can still be kissed and kiss others
  • You cannot transmit HIV through sharing cups, food, showers or through casual contact
  • You can still have sex
  • You can still have children
  • There is no need for you to leave your job
  • And you can keep living life to the full
Choosing your health care provider

Choosing your doctor or other health care provider is an important process. The relationship with your doctor needs to be one of partnership, and of understanding and respect.

A good doctor and health care provider will:

  • Maintain your privacy and respect your confidentiality at all times.
  • Explain the risks and benefits of any treatment, including side effects
  • Be open to discussing complementary ways of managing symptoms and side effects

    If you do not feel comfortable with your doctor, look for another one. If you are finding it difficult to find the right person you can call Positive Women Inc. and we can help.
    Phone: 09 303 0094 Free phone: 0800 POZTIV 0800 769 848

Monitoring your HIV - Blood Tests

You can benefit from regular tests designed to monitor how your immune system is coping. Most women feel well until their immune systems are so low that they get severe infections. It’s recommended that you have two ongoing and regular blood tests, usually done every three months, called ‘viral load’ and ‘CD4 count’. The results of these two tests looked at over time can help predict when your immune system needs help, before you get a severe infection. This allows you and your doctor to discuss preventative medicine and start this so that you do not become ill unexpectedly.

Women living with HIV or AIDS are advised to have a pap smear every six months. You can contact your own doctor or Positive Women Inc to arrange smear test.

Medications

There have been many medical advances around HIV and there are a wide variety of medications available to help slow down the progression of HIV to AIDS. HIV treatments are known as antivirals or antiretrovirals. They stop the virus from replicating, which protects your immune system from damage.

Your doctor or HIV specialist will advise you when it is the best time to go on medications and recommend the most appropriate medication. However, remember, this is a joint process. Ask questions, find out all you can about the medications, the regime and the side effects, to ensure it is the best for you. You have the right to ask questions and to make choices.

Sex

HIV positive women have the right to a full and active sex life. Sex can be a really positive way to feel good about yourself and your partner. Having sex can make you feel desired and valued, happy and fulfilled. However, it can be hard to feel relaxed about sex when you have HIV because you may be afraid of transmitting the virus to your partner. Learning to talk about sex and negotiate safe sex with a partner may be difficult. Understanding the ways in which HIV can be transmitted may help you decide which sexual activities are safe, and which ones pose a risk.

Safe sex is any sex that avoids semen or vaginal fluid from getting into the bloodstream of another person. There is no risk of transmitting HIV through massage, masturbation or kissing, providing the person has no cuts, sores or scratches on their hands. If they do have cuts, sores or scratches, it’s advisable to wear latex gloves. Talking about your feelings to a counsellor, or to other women living with HIV or AIDS, may help you find ways of exploring your sexuality safely.

Can you still be a mother?

YES! You can reduce the chances of your baby getting HIV to below 2% by taking antiretroviral drugs and by not breastfeeding. HIV is rarely transmitted from mother to infant in the womb. The more risky periods are during delivery or after delivery through breast milk.

There are a number of key factors that affect the likelihood of transmission: your health, your viral load and you immune system. In general, the lower your viral load, the less likely you are to transmit HIV to your baby.

Insurance

If you are interested in life insurance or other insurances a good contact for people living with HIV.
Anne Wakeham
FINANCIAL ADVISER email: annew@apexgroup.co.nz
Mobile: 021 533 265
0800 500 510
09 968 2152
Level 3, 264 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden

Please note: For life insurance people will need to complete an application which will then be assessed. Sovereign will check with ID specialist or doctor must be on medications and even better if undetectable. There may still be a surcharge to pay and it may only be time bound i.e. 10 years.

Travel

If you are planning an overseas trip you must first check if the country you intend to visit has any entry restrictions for travellers living with HIV/AIDS, and if so, how this will effect your trip. A good place to start is to check the countries listed here www.hivtravel.org

Travel Insurance:
If you would like to have HIV covered as an pre-existing medical condition:
Some New Zealand Insurance companies will now cover HIV as a pre-existing medical condition for a travel insurance policy. This does however require the payment of an extra medical surcharge on the policy and often comes with set conditions.
New Zealand Insurance companies which we know currently cover HIV as a pre-existing condition:

Getting on with your life

HIV can affect your body in a number of different ways. You may feel perfectly well, and have no symptoms or illness. You may feel tired and lacking in energy. If you have had HIV for sometime, you may have some of the symptoms of more serious immune damage.

Whether you have symptoms or not, it is important to regularly monitor your health, any changes in how you are feeling, and to learn how to best take care of your health.

There is some evidence to show that HIV affects women differently to men in some respects. This may be due to physical, social or psychological differences. HIV may affect your:

  • hormones
  • body weight and shape
  • reproductive system
  • menstruation and menopause
  • lifestyle and social circumstances
Who should you tell?

You don’t need to rush out and tell people that you have HIV. Sometimes it might be helpful to take some time to adjust to the news yourself before you decide to tell your family or friends.

Perhaps ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who can I trust with the information that I am HIV positive?
  • Will they offer me support?
  • Will they judge me?
  • Will they respect my confidentiality?

You do not have to tell:

  • your friends
  • your employer
  • your work colleagues
  • doctors, dentists or other health care professionals.

However, it might be wise to tell any doctor treating you – particularly over the long term or for serious conditions – that you have HIV.