We’ve come a long way in the last few decades. So has HIV treatment.
People living with HIV are a lot of different things. Bright. Creative. Trustworthy. They are friends, neighbors, and parents. These are the things that define them—not HIV.
Today, HIV is far from a death sentence. Those who take medication as prescribed and are virally suppressed are able to embrace sexual and reproductive choices (including having children) without fear of passing HIV on. People living with HIV are just that: living. HIV doesn't write their future. And life goes on.
Know the facts
HIV is manageable with as little as one pill a day.
HIV care has moved on. With as little as one pill a day, HIV can be as manageable as other chronic disease like diabetes or asthma.
People living with HIV can still have sex.
People who are in treatment and have an undetectable viral load cannot pass the virus on to sexual partners. HIV-negative partners may choose to reduce their risk of contracting HIV by taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication. Condoms can also reduce the risk of passing HIV on. Different people may have different preferences and needs regarding the prevention method(s) that is best for them.
People living with HIV can still have kids.
When people living with HIV have an undetectable viral load (meaning HIV medication has brought the virus to such low levels that blood tests can't detect it), there's virtually no risk of passing HIV along to their child.
HIV is not AIDS.
Most people living with HIV will never be diagnosed with AIDS. HIV is a virus, while AIDS is a condition that is diagnosed when the virus has caused significant damage to the immune system.
I wish people knew that HIV isn’t the death sentence it once was. Know that you are still human. You are still worthy of love. You are still worthy of sex. You are still worthy of friends. — Jonathan
Resources are out there.
If you know someone living with HIV, support is available. The Ryan White Program at Forest Community Health Center in Lansing provides HIV primary medical care, essential support services, and medications for people living with HIV. Because people living with HIV should be able to put their own health first.
- Case management
- Emergency financial assistance
- Support groups
- Transportation assistance
- One-on-one counseling for depression, substance use, adjusting to life with HIV, and more
Early detection is key.
The only way to be sure of your HIV status is to get tested. Everyone who is sexually active should be tested for HIV. Fast, confidential tests are available regardless of insurance coverage. Visit Forest Community Health Center for a test today.
People living with HIV are not alone.
Many people diagnosed with HIV feel a complicated mix of emotions at first, but they are never alone. The Ryan White Program at Forest Community Health Center offers local support groups, and communities are available online through thebody.com and poz.com.
Undetectable = Untransmittable.
Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) is a simple concept backed by science: People living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load and take their medications as prescribed have effectively no risk of passing on the virus to HIV-negative partners through sex. These people can feel confident making social, sexual, and reproductive choices they previously may have never thought possible.
People living with HIV can live long, healthy lives.
People diagnosed with HIV who reach healthy cell count levels have roughly the same life expectancy as people who are HIV-negative. Don't believe the myths; people living with HIV can still live a normal life. They can still do everyday (and sometimes boring) things, like working out at the gym, sharing a dessert, and maintaining a steady career.
People diagnosed with HIV can find an opportunity to start over again. You can’t go back, but you can go forward. — Jackie
HIV is so treatable. Get support, find out what you need to do, and do it. The way medicine is today, knowing is way better than living in fear. — DeAndre