If you test positive on an at-home HIV test, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to arrange for a lab-based test to confirm your results. Positive results are, unfortunately, extremely rarely false.
If the lab test also returns a positive HIV test result, you have been infected with the virus. At this point, it’s important to know that having HIV is not a death sentence. If you tested yourself in an early stage of the infection, it’s highly likely that diligent treatment may help reduce your viral load to undetectable levels, allowing you to live a full, normal life.
Your healthcare provider should prescribe you antiretroviral therapy (ART) to help manage the infection and, hopefully, prevent it from escalating to AIDS. A blood test should be done every 3-4 months to monitor the viral load.
It’s imperative that you contact everyone that you have had unprotected sex with as far back as you can trace them, and let them know to get tested as well.
While the chances of transmitting it are relatively low, depending on the kind of intercourse you engage in, you will, of course, need to use protection for each following sexual encounter, at least until your viral load becomes undetectable — it’s not guaranteed that this will happen, but ART in early-stage infections can feasibly lead to this result.
If detected early enough, it may take about 6 months for ART to lower your viral load enough to make unprotected sex safe. However, even if you’re HIV-positive, you can still get infected with a different strain of the virus; this is why it’s paramount to protect yourself if you’re not sure of your partner’s status.
Finally, unless your viral load is undetectable, you will need to ensure that your blood never makes contact with anyone else’s open wound or bloodstream (this especially applies to sharing needles).
Other than the above, living with HIV doesn’t necessarily need to be different from living a regular life.
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