AIDS InfoNet www.aidsinfonet.org
Fact Sheet Number 201
HOW DO I START?
DID YOU JUST LEARN THAT
It can be very scary to learn that your HIV
blood test came back positive, but it’s not a
death sentence. The test means that you
are infected with the virus that causes AIDS,
the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Even though there is no cure for HIV
disease, there are many new treatments
that help keep the disease under control.
Many people with HIV infection live a long
and healthy life. No one can predict how
long it may take to develop any symptoms of
A Project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.org
This Fact Sheet is sponsored by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
When you first find out that you have HIV,
you’ll need to adjust to this change in your
life. Family members or friends might be
able to help you, or you could talk with a
counselor or social worker. Take your time
and don’t feel that you have to tell everyone
right away about your HIV status. Then start
taking the next steps:
Learn more about HIV disease.
• Keep track of your immune system.
• Decide how you want to deal with HIV.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HIV
HIV is a virus that can multiply rapidly in
your body. Without treatment, HIV can make
your immune system very weak. If this
happens, you might get an “opportunistic
infection”. Common germs cause these
diseases. People with healthy
systems can be exposed to these germs
and not get sick. The same germs can
cause serious illnesses in people with weak
The first medication for HIV was approved in
1987. Now there are many different drugs
that can be used to slow down the HIV virus.
Most people with HIV disease can now
expect to live healthy lives for many years.
You will probably have a lot of questions
about HIV disease.