VIC­TORY OVER HIV

You should not let peo­ple’s opin­ions about liv­ing with HIV de­ter you from liv­ing pos­i­tively with the virus

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Cle­ment Fana Ntuli

LIV­ING with HIV is a life­long jour­ney filled with ups and downs. There will be trig­gers along this jour­ney, which can set you back and make you want to give up at times. It is cru­cial to be aware of these trig­gers and how to man­age them.

TRIG­GERS AND HOW TO MAN­AGE THEM

Ill­ness: When you are liv­ing with HIV, your im­mune sys­tem is com­pro­mised and you may en­counter op­por­tunis­tic in­fec­tions. You may also develop ill­nesses, whether you are on an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy (ARVs) or not. ARVs may dras­ti­cally re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting sick, but they won’t erad­i­cate it. You may panic when­ever you get sick as you are not sure if it arises from HIV or not.

How to man­age ill­nesses:

Most ill­nesses are cur­able or man­age­able. It is im­por­tant to get a pro­fes­sional di­ag­no­sis and pay at­ten­tion to the ill­ness rather than let­ting it dampen your spirit. Get help as soon as pos­si­ble.

Set­backs: One of the cru­cial parts of liv­ing with HIV is en­sur­ing you re­duce your vi­ral load while strength­en­ing your im­mune sys­tem. This can be done by ad­her­ing to your med­i­ca­tion and liv­ing pos­i­tively. You should go for blood tests often and to mon­i­tor your progress. A set­back such as your CD4 count de­creas­ing from 1 000 to 600 may cause you to panic and worry.

How to man­age set­backs: If you ac­knowl­edge that your jour­ney with HIV will not al­ways be smooth, you will dust your­self off, rise and con­tinue to fight the virus each time you en­counter a set­back. My jour­ney through life has had a lot of set­backs, how­ever, it is my de­ter­mi­na­tion to rise and con­tinue that has brought me this far.

Neg­a­tive state­ments: Some peo­ple may have neg­a­tive things to say and are judge­men­tal about your sta­tus. Al­low­ing these neg­a­tive things to stay in your mind will make you anx­ious and trig­ger stress. Don’t per­son­alise their as­ser­tions as it will hurt and set you back in your fight against HIV.

How to man­age neg­a­tive state­ments: Our knowl­edge and per­spec­tive of things vary. This means some peo­ple will al­ways have no­tions about the im­pli­ca­tions of liv­ing with HIV based on their fears and ig­no­rance. Don’t let other peo­ple's opin­ions de­ter you from con­tin­u­ing to live pos­i­tively with the virus. You can in­stead ed­u­cate them about HIV and liv­ing pos­i­tively with the virus.

PER­SONAL EX­PE­RI­ENCE

When I started tak­ing ARVs due to my low CD4 count, I felt that the ARVs were not work­ing and often felt like giv­ing up.

But I soon re­alised that such thoughts could lead to me giv­ing up if they're not ad­dressed and man­aged ac­cord­ingly.

I then be­came aware of neg­a­tive things that could lead to me fal­ter­ing in my jour­ney.

Cle­ment Fana Ntuli is a mo­ti­va­tional speaker and author of the book Turn­ing Tri­als Into Tri­umph. Do you have any HIV-re­lated ques­tions? Email your ques­tion to Cle­ment at clem­n­tuli@ya­hoo.com.

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