VICTORY OVER HIV
You should not let people’s opinions about living with HIV deter you from living positively with the virus
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.
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 email@example.com.