According to the World Health Organization, people under the age of 25 comprise one in five HIV cases. The number of youth living with HIV increases each year. While many young people were born with the virus, others are infected everyday.
The Community Strength Project wants to address young people’s concerns and help them learn more about living well with HIV. We are here to give you the information that you want about the topics you find interesting.
Have private questions about living with HIV? Need help dealing with healthcare services? Just email us!
April Spotlight: Upcoming Programs for Youth
In the United States, 1 in 5 new HIV cases are found in young people between 13 and 24 years old. It’s true that new medications can help people living with HIV to lead long, healthy lives. But youth living with HIV can sometimes have problems with controlling their health and staying on their medicine. This happens for many reasons, like:
- Different beliefs around HIV
- Myths about HIV
- Not having a place to live
- Not working or no jobs available
- Drug use
- Risky behaviors
- Sexual Assault
At MIHS, we want to help all young people living with HIV to get in care and stay in care. If someone with HIV stays in care and takes their medicine the right way, they can have so little virus in their blood that it’s undetectable! This is called “viral suppression.” Our new Young Adult Program Coordinator will be creating programs to help youth as they move through the steps of HIV Care.
Davey Wavey tells us that if you have HIV, you can take medicine called antiretrovirals (ART) to keep the amount of virus in the blood very low – so low that it’s undetectable. It’s amazing!
National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
April 10th is National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD)
The day serves as a reminder that giving health and education is a serious step to recognize the impact of HIV in our young people.
HIV is a threat to anyone of any age, but mainly our youth.
In the United States, 26% of all new HIV cases happen in young people aged 13-24 years.
Nearly 60% of these new infections in youth happen more in black people.
The Role Of Schools
Schools can play an important role in helping the health and safety of our young people.
What Can You Do?
We need to make sure that young people know how to keep themselves from getting HIV.
Get educated. Learn the basic facts about HIV infection, testing, and prevention.
Get tested for HIV. CDC suggests that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 years get tested for HIV. Contact your doctor about testing for 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:
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
Disclosing Your HIV Status -Telling Others
Telling others that you're living with HIV can be scary. It's hard to decide who to tell, and how to tell them. But talking about it with family , friends, and your providers can help you manage life with HIV. There isn't one way to disclose you status, but there are steps you can take to prepare.
Go over the pros and cons
Think about why you want to disclose
Think about what you want from disclosing
Try to anticipate the person's response
Be prepared to educate them about HIV
Make sure to seek out support for yourself
Talking about your status is a very personal experience. For more information about sharing your status visit: Do you have to tell?
HIV & AnxietyLiving 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
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
Several organizations have support groups for HIV infected and affected individuals and their families. These support groups are even further differentiated by more defined groupings, such as women, minority women, families of infected or exposed children, youth who have been perinatally infected, and others. For more information on support groups contact:
- The Bill Holt Infectious Diseases Clinic at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for family and youth groups; and
- The Family Advocate, Lorraine Brown for women’s educational groups and more information on various support groups. There is a women's support group that meets weekly at McDowell Clinic. The McDowell Women’s Group meets every Thursday from 9:30am – 11:30am at the McDowell Healthcare Center, 1101 North Central, Phoenix. Breakfast is provided with guest speakers and activities, all McDowell women only are welcome.