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I just found out I am HIV+. What do I do now?

You’ve come to the right place for information after an HIV diagnosis.  I am happy to help with a few next steps.

One of the first things that you will want to do is find a doctor who is experienced in treating HIV.  The clinician who tested you for HIV can refer you to the Manitoba HIV Program by calling 204-940-6089 or 1-866-449-0165.  This will link you with an HIV care provider and other supports in Manitoba.

One of your conversations with your HIV care provider will be about treatment.  HIV treatment may be simpler than you think.  They will go through the options with you, and help you choose and manage a medication that will keep you healthy and significantly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV.

You may be contacted by a public health nurse who will provide you with basic information about HIV. They will also talk to you about informing your current and past sex partners and (if you use drugs) people you have shared drug equipment with, that it’s important for them to test for HIV. This can be done anonymously, without giving your name to these partners.

There are many ways that you can avoid transmitting HIV to the people in your life.  HIV is generally transmitted through sex or shared drug equipment.  There are things that can make these activities safer; for example using condoms & lube and taking HIV medications regularly.   New drug equipment that is never shared and disposed of properly also keeps our communities from passing HIV.  Talk to your doctor about transmission prevention and about where you can get free needles, condoms, lube, etc… or check the Street Connections map.

To find out more strategies around safer sex you can read more info provided here on our Web Q&A, talk to your doctor, phone a Health Educator at Nine Circle (204)940-6000, or read some of the great CATIE resources.

You will also want to have a conversation with your care provider about your rights and responsibilities around disclosure (telling someone that you are HIV positive.)  Having accurate information on disclosing to sexual partners is important for HIV positive Canadians.

This probably sounds like a lot to take on right now, but if go step by step, and get support from the right people, HIV can be managed and you can absolutely live a full, healthy life.  The fact that you have reached out is a great first step, and I wish you the best as you continue on your journey.

Feel free to also browse the services available at Nine Circles Community Health Centre for more local support.