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Celebrating Love With HIV and Aging

Aging with HIV doesn’t have to mean living without love. It’s natural to want love, sex, romance, companionship and intimacy in our lives. Not everyone knows that the risk of passing HIV to someone else is low if your viral load is undetectable. People who are HIV negative can take PrEP (the HIV pill Truvada taken daily for prevention) to protect against the virus. Stigma, which dates back to the 1980s, dies hard. And that stigma can also turn inward, making us feel like damaged goods.

Some tips for finding love include:

  • Don’t be afraid to take the step.
  • Accept other people for who they are and don’t try to change them.
  • Never take advantage of others.
  • Express appreciation.
  • Have your own space.
  • If one person fails you, don’t give up!

Sometimes, what it takes to find that special someone is an open mind.

  • Strategize About Disclosing If you tell people in person or on dating apps off the bat that you have HIV, you’ll likely filter out HIV-phoebes. But you don’t have to disclose right away. However, you better disclose before the clothes come off.
  • Take it Slow When together, hang out in groups or in public spaces, like the movies, to see whether you’re a match. Start off as pals.
  • Loosen Up Let go of some of your more superficial requirements in a lover. Broaden your comfort zone. Everyone has flaws. Put yourself in situations that are little unfamiliar.
  • Stop the Pity Party Recognize the other sources of love in your life. Love happens all around us, all the time. We are nourished by all sorts of relationships, including family and friends.

To read more go to https://www.poz.com/article/close


5 Tips for Finding True Love When You Have HIV 

Build a strong friendship network. We need people in our life who care about us, and whom we care about, to be with during the good times and the hard times. Friendships help you to maintain a solid foundation. And when your foundation is solid, you are in a better position to be open to a relationship because it will enhance your life rather than out of neediness or desperation to have someone to make you feel complete. After all, you’re already complete. 

Build yourself up. If you are caught up in reminding yourself how unlovable you are, then your dating life will be all about proving to yourself that you’re right. Stop labeling yourself. Especially with labels you don’t want – or need – to live up to. Sure, living with HIV presents some challenges. But you are the same person lovable and caring person you have always been. Always keep in mind: you are not your diagnosis.  

Take your eye off the ball. By focusing too hard on something, we can end up getting in our own way. And sending other people running for the hills. Instead of making finding a life partner your mission in life, make it your mission to have a quality life — quality in all areas of your life — right now and not sometime in the future (like when you have a partner).  

Just be your best you. Think of it this way: you is what you got. Your interests, your talents, your unique personality, your compassion for others. Let your light shine! When you’re happy with your life, and living it on your own terms, you are going to be that much more attractive to others. Who isn’t attracted to confidence?  

Make it fun. Finding a partner is a numbers game. You just have to keep putting yourself out there in the world. So make it about getting to know someone new, to share a smile and few friendly words, and make the day a little more enjoyable. If you’re able to accomplish that much, then that’s a lot. Take the pressure off yourself. And let go of the expectations for other people. Be happy with yourself. You’ll be that much more able to make someone else happy.  

Plus's mental health editor Gary McClain, Ph.D., is a counselor in New York City with a specialty in coping with HIV and other chronic health conditions.  Plus Magazine


Myths & HIV
Fact Or Fiction?
One in three people in the U.S. think something about HIV that is not true. Accurate information about HIV is important to have. Can you tell fact from fiction? Here are some common myths about HIV. 


"HIV doesn't affect people like me."

Anyone can be at risk for HIV. It can be passed during comdomless sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) or when sharing drug needles or works. HIV can be passed during pregnancy, delivery, or by breastfeeding. You can be exposed from blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. Someone can live with HIV for years without feeling or looking sick. One in five people who are positive don't know it.

"Someone can get HIV by drinking from a water fountain or touching a toilet seat after a person who is positive."
HIV is not spread through touch, saliva, tears, sweat, or by breathing the air. Casual everyday activities are not risky. HIV does not live long outside the body. It cannot be passed by hugs, shared utensils, swimming pools, doorknobs, or phones.

 "My Partner and I are both HIV positive, so we don't need to use condoms."
Having sex without a condom always carries risk. You could be exposed to a different strain of HIV. You could be at risk for STDs like syphilis. Infection with a drug resistant of HIV makes treatment difficult.

"I can't give anyone HIV because my viral load is undetectable."
HIV medication can help you reduce the amount of HIV in your blood. If you take your medications, your viral load gets so low lab tests cannot count it. This reduces the chance of HIV transmission. HIV also lives in other body fluids. It is still possible to spread HIV even with a low or undetectable viral load.  To check the facts, visit: Myths & HIV


Just Diagnosed. Now What?                                                                                                                                                               First of all, you are not alone. There are many HIV positive people to talk to.  There are many services available to help.  You are not alone and you will not be alone. 

Get in care. Regular medical care helps keep you healthy.  HIV medication helps keep the virus in check.  We know that taking medication can be scary.  Your doctor can help.  Your case manager can help.  Your friends can help.  You get decide when to take your medication.  Do it at a time that works best for you. 

Learn about HIV. There are many resources to help.  Try some of the links, below, to find more information.  Ask questions.  Make sure you understand the answers.  If not, ask the question again.  Never stop learning.  The science around HIV changes all the time. 

Remember, you are not alone. Reach out, get in care, ask questions, respect yourself.  For more information, check out these resources: 

HIVAZ - Newly Diagnosed

The Body - Living with HIV

AIDS.gov - Just Diagnosed


Preparing for Your Doctor Appointments
For many people living with HIV, doctor appointments become a regular part of life. 
These tips can help you prepare for your doctor appointments so you can get more out of them:

Be on time. Be honest. Never be afraid to ask questions.
Make a list of goals that you can talk about with your doctor to help you reach them.
Make a list of any problems you have.
Bring a list of all medication, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or supplements that you are taking. 
Include a list of medications you have taken in the past and problems you have had with them.
Bring a copy of your medical records if you are seeing a new doctor who does not already have them.
Be prepared to talk about changes in your life, relationships, or work that may keep you from keeping appointments. Your doctor may be able to link you to services that can help you. 
Describe side affects you are having from your HIV treatment.
Ask your doctor about your next visit and what you should bring to your appointments.
Ask for a list of your future appointments when you check out.
Get in a routine such as using a calendar, apps on smartphone, or test and or e-mail reminders to help you remember your appointments.
For more information go to website: 
AIDS.gov 


Taking Action Against Stigma
Dealing with stigma while living with HIV can be difficult and painful. For some, it's one of the biggest things keeping them from getting care and support. It might seem too hard to cope with the negative things that people think and say. But, there are many ways to take action!

Remind yourself that stigma is wrong, and it's not your fault. Once you feel comfortable, find someone or a group of people you trust, and talk about your experiences. They might feel the same way, and want to build a network of support with you and others.

Seek out information about HIV for yourself, so you can educate others. Stigma often starts with being afraid of what we don't know about. Answering questions about HIV can help people better understand the issues.

Become an advocate, and make your voice heard! Get involved in events and activities in your HIV  community. Knowing that you're not alone is a powerful tool in the fight against stigma. 

To learn more about upcoming community events in the Phoenix area, including Phoenix AIDS Candlelight Vigil on December 1st, visit: Phoenix Vigil


HIV & Anxiety
Living with HIV can be hard. We worry about our health. We worry about taking our medications. We worry about paying for care. We worry about our jobs and our kids and our pets and so many other things. Worry is part of life. It is to be expected. It usually passes quickly. At times like this, it helps to talk to someone you trust - a friend, a close relative, or maybe a therapist.

But sometimes, people start to worry and cannot stop. The worrying is so bad, they can't go to work or to school. The worrying keeps them inside and away from family and friends. The worry is out of control. this could be a sign of an Anxiety Disorder.

An Anxiety Disorder is much more than the feeling of worry someone gets before taking a test. An Anxiety Disorder does not go away. It usually gets worse over time. The worry consumes a person's entire life. If this happens, then you should talk to your primary care provider about how you feel. Your provider can refer you to someone who can help. Mental health counseling is an effective tool. If the anxiety is bad enough, there may be medications that will help. 

There is good news!

Help is out there. There are many  ways to reduce your worry. If you do not have insurance, the Ryan White program may help. There are many support groups out there that provide a safe space for you to talk about your fears and worries. Some people find that meditation reduces their anxiety. 

You can do it. Reach out. Take control. For more information about Anxiety Disorder, Check out the National Institute of Mental Health
 

Navigating the HIV System

When you are first diagnosed with HIV, navigating the system of linkage to care may seem daunting and gloomy. You might not know where to start or what questions to ask. Be assured that you are not alone. Navigating the system can be simplified with the help and assistance of a Patient Navigator and a Case Manager.

Depending on where you are tested for HIV, the agency may have Patient Navigators to assist you initially in navigating the HIV system and help you in starting your care plan. If Patient Navigators are not available, the agency will provide you with information of where to begin with the process of linkage to care. Always have in mind that you are not alone and there is help.

Your first stop will always be the office of Central Eligibility, otherwise known as CE. At CE, they will assist you in applying for a government funded program to help cover Ryan White Services and scheduling your first provider appointment if it has not already been made by the Patient Navigator. Regardless if you have Medicaid, Medicare, commercial insurance or insurance through the marketplace, you may be eligible for Ryan White Services. If you do not have any type of medical insurance do not panic, there is help and no excuse to not link to HIV care. Your eligibility for Ryan White services will be determined at CE. Ryan White Services include case management, nutrition, behavioral health, dental services, transportation, and housing assistance. If you do not have medical insurance there is assistance with medical coverage through Ryan White and assistance with medication coverage through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program known as ADAP.

After you apply for Ryan White services, a case manager will be assigned to you. The case manager will contact you and meet you at your first provider’s appointment. Your case manager will be your go-to-person whenever you have questions related to the HIV linkage to care system. Case Managers are there to assist you and advocate for your needs.

Also, keep in mind that you must renew your Ryan White services every six months. Regardless if you have medical, insurance you can lose all your services you receive under Ryan White. Must renew your Ryan White services call your Case Manager. If you do not have an assigned Case Manager, call the Central Eligibility office at (602) 212-3788. It is critical that you stay in constant communication with your case manager since they are the ones who will always be there to assist you.

Things to Remember:

  • Name of your Case Management Agency
  • Your Case Manager’s Name and Telephone Number
  • Your Doctor’s Name, Address and Telephone Number
  • Medication you are taking (make a list)
  • Pharmacy you use to refill prescriptions
  • Six-month renewal date for Ryan White Services

CE’s Address and Telephone Number:

    • 1366 E. Thomas Rd., Ste. 203, Phoenix, AZ 85015
    • (602) 212-3788

MIHS image 2 For Adults


5 Tips for Finding True Love When You Have HIV 

Build a strong friendship network. We need people in our life who care about us, and whom we care about, to be with during the good times and the hard times. Friendships help you to maintain a solid foundation. And when your foundation is solid, you are in a better position to be open to a relationship because it will enhance your life rather than out of neediness or desperation to have someone to make you feel complete. After all, you’re already complete. 

Build yourself up. If you are caught up in reminding yourself how unlovable you are, then your dating life will be all about proving to yourself that you’re right. Stop labeling yourself. Especially with labels you don’t want – or need – to live up to. Sure, living with HIV presents some challenges. But you are the same person lovable and caring person you have always been. Always keep in mind: you are not your diagnosis.  

Take your eye off the ball. By focusing too hard on something, we can end up getting in our own way. And sending other people running for the hills. Instead of making finding a life partner your mission in life, make it your mission to have a quality life — quality in all areas of your life — right now and not sometime in the future (like when you have a partner).  

Just be your best you. Think of it this way: you is what you got. Your interests, your talents, your unique personality, your compassion for others. Let your light shine! When you’re happy with your life, and living it on your own terms, you are going to be that much more attractive to others. Who isn’t attracted to confidence?  

Make it fun. Finding a partner is a numbers game. You just have to keep putting yourself out there in the world. So make it about getting to know someone new, to share a smile and few friendly words, and make the day a little more enjoyable. If you’re able to accomplish that much, then that’s a lot. Take the pressure off yourself. And let go of the expectations for other people. Be happy with yourself. You’ll be that much more able to make someone else happy.  

Plus's mental health editor Gary McClain, Ph.D., is a counselor in New York City with a specialty in coping with HIV and other chronic health conditions.  Plus Magazine   


 

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