Living with HIV:
When will I need to start treatment and how will it make me feel? HIV infection progresses at very different rates in different people, but nearly everyone who is HIV positive will need treatment at some time. When you are diagnosed, your doctor will take two essential blood tests: The CD4 count tells you about the health of your immune system and the viral load tests tell you how much virus is in your blood.
Because your CD4 count is closely related to your risk of becoming ill, this is the test that your doctor will be interested in when it comes to deciding about when to start treatment. Current NHS guidelines recommend that anyone who is diagnosed HIV positive should be offered the opportunity to start treatment as soon as possible regardless of CD4 count. It uses three or more drugs to treat HIV. Treatment works for anyone no matter how you were infected. Your doctor should explain what drugs are available and what options will be best suited to your needs.
Everyone worries about possible treatment side effects. Whereas some treatments do have side effects, these will vary from individual to individual and modern HIV drugs are generally easily tolerated. Side-effects may be a problem when starting a new course of treatments, but they should subside within a few days or weeks. Speak to your doctor about how the meds can be changed to suit you. For more information on treatment support go to i-base or aidsmap.
How can I better manage my use of drugs and alcohol? Drugs and alcohol can make us feel confident, part of the group, relaxed and hornier. But we know that taking them often leads to risky sexual behaviour. Some HIV drugs can push levels of recreational drugs in the body towards overdose or life-threatening levels.
If you are worried about drug interactions talk to your doctor or go to Drugfucked.
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However most people also want to keep control over the sexual risks they are willing to take. The following tips might help increase the chances of you staying in control:. Contact Jim on or email jfielder positivelyuk. Rates of sexually transmitted infections among gay men are on the increase. This is probably accounted for by high levels of condomless sex as well as improvements in testing. The report also highlights a disproportionately high number of men within these figures are living with HIV.
The Hepatitis C virus hep C is transmitted through direct blood to blood contact and affects the liver. Over time, this can lead to significant liver damage. The liver has a vital role in supporting almost every organ in the body and is essential for good health. The highest risk of transmission is through sharing needles and other injecting equipment, but Hep C can also be passed on by sharing crack pipes and straws to snort drugs, sexual activity where there is blood to blood contact and sharing razors or toothbrushes.
Men who have sex with men seem to be at a higher risk of catching it through sex. Blood to blood contact is more likely to happen during rough or longer sex sessions and through the use of injecting equipment.
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If you are injecting drugs you should use new equipment and dispose of it safely to avoid catching hep C or passing it on. Your local drug service should be able to provide you with sterile injecting equipment and disposal bins. Many areas also have pharmacy based needle exchanges, which supply injecting equipment. Using condoms and changing them between partners will greatly reduce transmission of Hep C during sex. And be careful when using and sharing sex toys — always wash them in warm soapy water before use and when changing partners.
If you think you might have been exposed to Hep C, then you should get tested. If you are diagnosed positive, cure rates are very high for most people and new drugs with shorter treatment times and fewer side effects have been developed. However, at the moment, these new drugs are not widely available to all. You may therefore only be given the choice of older drugs or having to wait until newer drugs have wider access.
Men living with HIV who are stable on treatment and have an undetectable viral load are able to conceive naturally with very low risk of passing the virus on to an HIV negative mother. However, if the mother is anxious about the level of risk, there is the option of her taking PREP. Whereas in the past men would need to have their semen go through expensive and, not always reliable, sperm washing techniques, modern HIV treatments mean this is no longer necessary.
Since all HIV treatments are free for all regardless of where you live or your immigration status. You can read his most recent article here:. Our Services Recently Diagnosed? With our programme of workshops, one to one support and groups, help is never far away Read More Our recently diagnosed weekend workshops are here to help you gain a better understanding of HIV, talk about treatment options and discuss living with HIV as part of everyday life. Our Gay Talk group for gay and bisexual men meets on the first Saturday of every month Read More Facilitated by staff and mentors, the group provides a safe, friendly and welcoming space for you to get peer support, build life skills, have fun and socialise.
Advice on Benefits and Welfare If you are experiencing financial difficulties or need support around welfare, our benefits advisor can help Read More Our benefits advise team can check your benefit entitlements, help you to complete the necessary forms, advocate with the Department of Work and Pensions and your local council and attend medical assessments with you. Sign up to hear about upcoming GayTalk events Email Address. Read and download our: The choice is yours about whom to tell. Be selective Easy does it.
Who do you need to tell? What do you want to tell them about your HIV infection and what are you expecting from the person you are disclosing your HIV status to? When should you tell them?
Where is the best place to have this conversation? Why are you telling them? You will get through it too Choosing whom to tell or not tell is your personal decision. The following tips might help increase the chances of you staying in control: You can significantly reduce your risk of transmitting or being infected with an STI by: Using condoms Getting screened regularly to ensure early identification and treatment at least annually, or every three months if having condomless sex with new or casual partners Reducing the number of sexual partners Hepatitis C The Hepatitis C virus hep C is transmitted through direct blood to blood contact and affects the liver.
Further information on Hep C can be found here. Being HIV positive does not exclude you from becoming a parent. You can read his most recent article here: Travelling Abroad - I plan to travel abroad this summer for a holiday but have heard there are some countries that impose restrictions on people living with HIV. How easy is travelling with HIV these days and what should I consider when planning a trip?
Introduction to the Resource What is Peer Support? What competencies should your Peer Supporters be able to develop? What are your Peer Supporters going to do?
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