The following information is provided directly from AIDSinfo, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Source: AIDSinfo,  U.S. Department of Health and Human 

hiv positive: what are my next steps?

Testing positive for HIV often leaves a person overwhelmed with questions and concerns. It’s important to remember that HIV is a manageable disease that can be treated with HIV medicines.

The first step after testing positive is to see a health care provider, even if you don’t feel sick. People with HIV work closely with their health care providers to decide when to start HIV medicines and what HIV medicines to take.

The use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART involves taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) every day. ART can’t cure HIV, but it helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduces the risk of HIV transmission.

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HIV Treatment Assistance

If you are living with HIV, there are resources that can help you find a health care provider, pay for your medicines, locate affordable housing, and get help with mental health issues.

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program is a federal program designed to help people with HIV get the medical care and other support services they need. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) explains who is eligible for Ryan White Program services and where to find help on their website: Get HIV Care and Treatment.

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Should I Tell Other People about My Positive Test Result?

It's important to share your status with your sex partner(s) and/or people with whom you inject drugs. Whether you disclose your status to others is your decision.

If you're nervous about disclosing your test result, or you have been threatened or injured by a partner, you can ask your doctor or the local health department to help you tell your partner(s) that they might have been exposed to HIV. 

In most cases, your family and friends will not know your test results or HIV status unless you tell them yourself. While telling your family that you have HIV may seem hard, you should know that disclosure actually has many benefits—studies have shown that people who disclose their HIV status respond better to treatment than those who don't.

AIDSinfo offers access to the latest, federally approved HIV/AIDS medical practice guidelines, HIV treatment and prevention clinical trials, and other research information for health care providers, researchers, people affected by HIV/AIDS, and the general public.