Just Diagnosed: Next Steps After Testing Positive for HIV – What To Do

Testing positive for HIV often leaves a person overwhelmed with questions and concerns. It’s important to remember that HIV is a manageable disease that can be treated with HIV medicines. HIV medicines can’t cure HIV, but they help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

The first step after testing HIV positive is to see a health care provider, even if you don’t feel sick. Prompt medical care and treatment with HIV medicines as soon as possible is the best way to stay healthy.

People with HIV should start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible. Deciding when to start HIV medicines and what medicines to take begins with an HIV baseline evaluation.
An HIV baseline evaluation includes a review of the person’s health and medical history, a physical exam, and lab tests.

What is the next step after testing positive for HIV?

Testing positive for HIV often leaves a person overwhelmed with questions and concerns. It’s important to remember that HIV is a manageable disease that can be treated with HIV medicines.

The first step after testing positive is to see a health care provider, even if you don’t feel sick. People with HIV work closely with their health care providers to decide when to start HIV medicines and what HIV medicines to take.

The use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day. ART prevents HIV from multiplying and reduces the amount of HIV in the body. ART can’t cure HIV, but it helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduces the risk of HIV transmission.

People with HIV should start ART as soon as possible. In people with HIV who have certain conditions, such as certain HIV-related illnesses and coinfections, it’s especially important to start ART right away. Deciding when to start ART and what HIV medicines to take begins with an HIV baseline evaluation.

What is an HIV baseline evaluation?

An HIV baseline evaluation includes all the information collected during a person’s initial visits with a health care provider. The HIV baseline evaluation includes a review of the person’s health and medical history, a physical exam, and lab tests.

The purpose of an HIV baseline evaluation is to:

Determine how far a person’s HIV infection has progressed. Treatment with HIV medicines can prevent HIV from advancing to AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection.
Evaluate whether the person is ready to start lifelong treatment with HIV medicines.

Collect information to decide what HIV medicines to start.
During an HIV baseline evaluation, the health care provider explains the benefits of HIV treatment and discusses ways to reduce the risk of passing HIV to others. The health care provider also takes time to answer any questions.

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