5 Top Questions for Newly Diagnosed HIV Patients


Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

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If you’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV, you’re bound to have many questions. There’s a lot to think about and it’s perfectly normal to want to find out all you can. Fortunately, there are a few common questions most HIV-positive patients ask soon after their diagnosis.

1. What does it mean to be HIV-positive?

One of the first things to understand is the difference between HIV and AIDS. Your HIV-positive diagnosis means you have been infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which interferes with the function of certain immune cells in your body and leaves you more vulnerable to infection and other diseases.

Your HIV-positive diagnosis does not necessarily mean you have AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It can be a little confusing, since HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. A person is only said to have AIDS when their immune system becomes extremely weak. AIDS is the final stage of a chronic HIV infection and it usually takes years to get to this point.

An HIV diagnosis is NOT a death sentence—and these HIV-positive people are proof that you can live a full life if you commit to your health.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 13, 2016

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