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Protecting Your Mental Health While Living With AIDS

Almost half a century has passed since its first known case, yet some people still have HIV and AIDS prejudices. These judgments are very harmful to you and the community of AIDS patients. Reckless remarks can progress to bullying and discrimination, affecting your self-worth and overall mental health.

 

Before learning about protecting your mental health while living with AIDS, let’s talk about stigma and discrimination.

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HIV Stigma And Discrimination

 

HIV stigma and discrimination is more than just verbal and physical abuse directed to patients with AIDS. It sometimes even escalates to depriving HIV patients of their government rights, healthcare needs, and employment opportunities.

 

This stigma is often directed to patients who are sex workers, drug users, or men who have sex with men (MSM). 

 

Studies show how half of HIV patients from 35% of the countries worldwide have experienced discrimination. Because of the stigma and discrimination, some people are afraid of seeking a diagnosis, let alone receive treatment. This stigma thus affects AIDS patients’ physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

 

So what can you, a person with HIV, do to protect your mental health?

 

  • Learn About Your Condition

 

The first step to protecting your mental health is by learning about your conditions. Statistics show there are 8 out of 10 HIV patients who develop an internalized HIV stigma. This thinking leads to a dangerous path, where patients self-isolate and sulk in depressive and anxious thoughts.

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Another way to learn more about your condition is by knowing your rights. Learn about the services you can and should receive. If an employer denies you of a job or a doctor refuses you healthcare, bring up your rights.

 

Remember, your value as a person does not diminish with an HIV diagnosis. You deserve products and services just like everyone else.

 

Educating yourself will also help you know your worth. Some patients fall into a rabbit hole of depression after diagnosis. Your self-esteem may depreciate, and you may even blame yourself for your sickness. But you should know about the facts to lift your spirits somehow.

 

  • Educate People About Your Condition

 

Once you know the fast facts of AIDS, you can then educate other people. Often, HIV stigma comes from people who are misinformed about the illness.

 

Some think they can contract HIV with minimal interaction—like hugging, kissing, or simply being in the same room—with infected people. This belief is entirely wrong.

 

Since AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, you can only acquire it from sexual intercourse and not simple physical contact. You should also inform people of the other causes of HIV.

 

You’d be surprised to know how many people don’t know about HIV transmission through needle or blood transfusion. Blood transfusions have a higher risk compared to other factors.

 

Sometimes, HIV stigma can also arise from preexisting gender discrimination. Try to remind these prejudiced people of the other HIV risks. Same needle use and blood transfusions are even more of a threat than your sexuality.

 

Besides, there should be no issue at all with gender and sexual orientation. In this political climate, there’s no space left for discrimination and gender inequalities.

 

  • Surround Yourself With A Loving Community

 

However, not everyone is born into an accepting and open-minded family. And sometimes, no matter how much you try to educate the people you love, they still won’t accept you fully. It is a sad reality, but it is also a situation we must recognize.

 

If ever this happens, you would be better off with a loving community. Ask your doctor if they know about any support groups for AIDS patients. They will be able to offer you the support you need as you undergo treatment.

 

These support groups can also give you tips on living a good life even with AIDS.

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Some people may feel shy at first and will instead join online forums anonymously. You can also do this. You control your time, and only you can determine when you’ll be ready to share with people about your condition. 

 

  • Build Good Mental Health Habits

 

However, it is best to regulate your dependence on other people since it may also be detrimental if in excess. If you haven’t had the resources to build healthy habits before, now would be a perfect time.

 

Start being more mindful of your actions, thoughts, and emotions. You can start a journal to monitor your feelings as well as your symptoms and progress.

 

Once you become more aware of yourself and how your brain processes events, you can take better control of everything else. You can improve your mood and enhance your overall cognitive abilities.

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What’s important is you continue building yourself up. Learn new things about yourself or your condition every day. You can take small steps, and it would still be fine. The important thing is, you are progressing to become a better you despite living with an illness.

 

If you have trouble trying to be mentally healthy, seek the help of professionals. Psychologists and doctors may help you with behavioral therapies. Life coaches, therapists, and counselors can also provide you with proper strategies to improve your general quality of life.

 

AIDS is just another treatable disease but only made worse by discrimination and negative stigma. So before the negativity reaches your mental health, take the necessary steps to protect it.

 

Educate yourself and the people close to you with HIV and AIDS facts. You should also have a healthy balance between community-dependence and self-reliance. And if you need professional help, don’t be scared to seek psychologists or therapists. 

Gaining Family Support After HIV Diagnosis

Have you ever woken up and realized that everything you held close to your heart started to slip away from your fingers? That was how I felt when my family found out that I was HIV positive.

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The Backstory

Here is a little backstory about me. I am the eldest of four children. Being a first-born, my parents expected me to be practically perfect. They said that it was the only way for me to become a positive example to my younger siblings. Although they had an old-fashioned view of the world, I valued their opinion so much, so I did everything they said that I should do.

For instance, in high school, I wanted to study at a public school because all my friends were there. But Mom said, “No way! You are going to St. Mary’s All-Girls School,” and I did not get another peep. When I asked if I could go to UCLA because they had an excellent science program, Dad said, “No, you will study at NYU. It’s closer to home.” Again, I did not protest. In my mind, being an obedient child was good.

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But then, once I started going to college, I became friends with the wrong crowd. Before the first semester ended, I knew how to smoke weed, drink, and party as if tomorrow would never come. Of course, I had a string of hookups, too. The nuns at my old school would freak out and probably say that demons possessed me if they learned how many guys I slept with.

I did not mean to lie, but it ended up that way. When they thought I was with my study group, I was actually at a bar with my fake ID, flirting or making out with some hot guy. Sometimes, we would go to the guy’s place. Other times, we could only reach the bathroom inside the bar. Yes, I was super wild.

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When The Diagnosis Came

When the diagnosis came, I was barely out of college. I applied for a job at my father’s company, and they required a full-body examination to ensure that everyone was fit to work. I stopped smoking weed two years before that, so I thought all my results would be squeaky clean. However, I did not stop hooking up with different guys now and then. Hence, once the doctor tested me for HIV, I turned out to be positive.

The first person who saw the result was my father. I asked him to bring it home since I would be coming over for dinner on that day. I was even excited to go there because Mom cooked my favorite foods. But when I opened the front door, a hard slap on the face greeted me.

I wanted to get angry because I felt wrong, but I could not say anything anymore when my dad shoved the paper in my hands. If only the ground could swallow me in that instant, I would have preferred it instead of meeting my family’s accusing gaze. My parents did not ask the specifics and made me leave, and I did. However, I regretted not begging them to interrogate me because it felt like they already disowned me.

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Gaining Family Support After HIV Diagnosis

It took me some time to get over the shock. Although I wanted to smack whoever transmitted the disease to me, I did not have any way to reach them, considering they were are one-night stands. I went to the doctor to figure out what I should do, and I could not help but cry when it sunk in that I had a sexually transmitted disease.

Who would have thought that a Catholic school girl like me would ever get HIV at a young age?

As ashamed as I was, I called my mom to ask for forgiveness. She was super tight-lipped at first, but when she heard me cry, she voiced her sentiments. She said, “How could you do this to us? We thought you were our smartest child. You failed us so hard.”

I wailed again through the phone, and Mom invited me to come over and talk to Dad. I felt scared to do it, but I had no other choice. I made the bed, so I had to lie on it now. I thought that whatever they would tell me, I would accept it because it was my fault.

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The conversation went better than I imagined. My parents calmed down after telling them everything that happened to me in the past years, and they expressed their disappointment. Then, they made me move back home so that they could take care of me. The doctor said that I would have to be under medication for a few months, and they did not want me to be alone in my condo.

I knew that part of the reason was that they wanted to make sure that I stopped my promiscuous habits, but that’s okay. As long as I gained my family’s support, I would not do anything stupid again.

Questions From The HIV Patient About COVID-19

 

 

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Even though the threat of severe illness from COVID-19 for individuals with Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is unclear, these individuals have questions and worries that are associated with their risk. This pandemic is a developing and a quickly advancing situation, and the Center for Disease Control will provide credible details, as it becomes 0btainable.

Do individuals with HIV like me have a higher likelihood of getting infected with the coronavirus?

As of now, there is no precise information about the risk of getting infected with the virus in HIV-positive people. The older adults and those of any age level with preexisting conditions most probably have a higher risk of a serious disease, including those who are immunocompromised. The risk for HIV-positive individuals like you of getting very sick is highest in HIV patients who are not undergoing treatment and those with a decreased CD4 cell count.

You can also be at risk of getting infected seriously with COVID-19 depending on your medical condition and how old you are.

What Can I possibly do to protect myself from COVID-19?

At present, there is no cure to prevent or cure COVID-19, but the best solution to help prevent sickness is to keep yourself from getting exposed to the virus. People like you who are HIV-positive should take the necessary preventive measures, such as proper hygiene and social distancing, among others, so that you can be sure that you are not going to be contaminated. You should also remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating healthily, getting sufficient sleep, and finding ways to reduce your stress levels. Doing this strengthens your immune system to help you fight off the infection if you catch it.

Source: wcido.com

If you are taking your medicines for HIV, you must proceed with your treatment and follow the recommendations of your doctor. This is key to keeping your immune system as healthy as it can be.

What must I do if I think that I am infected?

Contact your doctor immediately if you notice symptoms that are consistent with the disease. Ask him how you can avoid possibly passing the virus down to others. Also, learn more about COVID-19 by talking to a healthcare professional or by reading about it online.

Almost 50% of individuals in America who are diagnosed with HIV are 50 years old and above. These people also have higher percentages of specific underlying illnesses. Both of these factors can further increase your risk for acquiring more serious conditions if you get infected with the coronavirus, particularly if you HIV is advanced.

Here are some suggestions that people like you can do to prepare besides the usual recommendations given to the public.

  • Make sure that you have prepared medications for at least 30 days’ supply.
  • Consult your healthcare provider and be updated about the number of vaccinations that you have had, including seasonal flu vaccines and those for bacterial pneumonia. These vaccines may affect people with HIV like you.
  • Create a plan for medical care if you need to stay home for two weeks or more if necessary. Try connecting to your doctor online via telemedicine. There are HIV websites that you can turn to that are of great help to you in terms of information. If this is not possible, try communicating with your provider by calling or texting him.
  • When you have HIV, sometimes you are likely to need help more than the others, so receive that help from family, friends, and your community if it is given to you.

Source: health.mil

Can my HIV medicines be used to treat me if I am infected with COVID-19?

Some forms of HIV medications, like lopinavir-ritonavir, are evaluated for treating COVID-19. Outcomes from a clinical trial in China revealed that this medication did not decrease the number of viruses multiplying in patients admitted for COVID-19 and some type of respiratory illness. Until more information is gathered about the effects of HIV medications on the treatment of coronavirus, individuals like you should not make any changes to your prescribed medications to try and prevent or cure COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

Best AIDS-Related Movies To Watch While You’re Quarantined

 

 

Source: flickr.com

The recent upsurge of Novel Coronavirus has induced so much fear and anxiety among people living with AIDS. They are among those who belong to the group with existing illnesses that are most vulnerable to infection, particularly to this devastating virus surrounding the whole world today. They are strongly advised to stay at home – no matter how young or old they are – to stay healthy and safe.

With all the negative emotions going on in their hearts and minds right now, it is only right that we offer them this article dedicated solely to them – the best inspirational AIDS-related movies that will keep their hopes up while they’re quarantined at home.

Angels In America

A lot of the early films about AIDS did not usually put so much art in them. They were raw and bravely done to portray the real stories of the failure of the government and humanity as well. This was one of those films produced in 2003. An Emmy Award miniseries category winner, Angels in America, successfully depicted the AIDS epidemic with powerful scenes, adding historical characters and an inspiring script that has captured so much positive audience response, even from those who knew very little about the disease.

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

How To Survive A Plague

This extensive documentary film was nominated and praised worldwide when it was released in 2012. It provided a clear explanation and portrayal of AIDS during those times that people claimed it was the film to beat because others were not successful in their attempts to clarify the misconceptions that people had about the disease. In addition, because of this documentary, filmmakers in the United States decided to form groups such as the AIDS Activist Movement and the ACT UP, which encouraged people with AIDS to stand up and show the world what they can do despite their illness. This is a must-see.

Philadelphia

This film, which stars the talented and reputable Tom Hanks, is probably in everyone’s top ten inspiring movies of all time. It practically changed the way AIDS was pictured – with rage, fear, judgment, and insensitivity. This is one of Hanks’ most powerful portrayals, and it impacted the world in 1994, as it was obvious with how it made in the movie industry – a whopping $200 plus two Academy awards. The stigma that was shown in the movie hit some strings among the majority of people who knew in their hearts that they were guilty of discriminating AIDS victims from society. Denzel Washington explaining to his wife about homophobia in the movie, also made such an impact. Philadelphia is heart-wrenching and inspiring in so many ways.

An Early Frost

This is a television movie that was broadcasted in 1985 by NBC. It became so popular because it was the first film to expose the AIDS crisis in the United States. An Early Frost revolves around a young lawyer who was diagnosed with AIDS and decided to tell his parents about it. At the time when prejudice and stigma were extreme in America, its television audience reached more than 30 million. It successfully encouraged more public awareness of AIDS and HIV with its thoughtful and dramatic portrayals.

Source: mcny.org

The Normal Heart

This HBO produced movie is an excellent complement to the 2012 movie How to Survive a Plague in its thorough exposure of the AIDS crisis and the creation of activist groups. The Normal Heart is based on the play that was created by Larry Kramer, the ACT UP founder. The movie relived the rage and the urgency that hit the strings of the audience on stage. The conversations felt as if they were done by an individual who completely understood and carried with him the burden of the AIDS crisis during the 80s. When you’re done watching this, you might as well follow it up with Larry Kramer in Love and Anger.

 

 

Why More AIDS-Centered Movies Are Coming Out

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Same Same But Different. Philadelphia. Beats Per Minute. Dallas Buyers Club. The Normal Heart. What do you think these movies have in common?

Well, their central focus is AIDS and how it affects the lives of people who have contracted it.

I cannot call it a trend, but it seems like producers, directors, and writers are getting bolder than ever when it comes to the movies they make. There have been films with a lot of sexual content that appear on the silver screen, yes. You may have also seen gory and extremely violent movies. However, a sexually transmitted disease like AIDS is such a sensitive matter that people used to stay away from in the past. Even if there were several movies about them in the 80s, people hardly paid attention to them.

The reason for the latter is that HIV/AIDS was a taboo topic for decades. No one wanted to talk about it as if merely uttering the words would give them the disease. As you would see in most movies, the individuals who got tested positive lost everything, including their job and their family and friends. As a result, they tend to lose themselves, too.

“Many people believe that AIDS put an end to the sexual revolution, but this perception sidesteps an acknowledgement of the underlying factors which had already undermined the a real revolution in sexual values and overshadows more pervasive threats to our sexual health,” writes Deborah Anapol Ph.D.

The thing is, the 21st-century movies about AIDS are starting to thrive and become known now. They may never be as popular as sci-fi films, but they gain a new audience every time a similar flick comes out.

Why, you may ask?

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More People Are Beginning To Care About AIDS Patients

The primary reason I can think of is that there is a growing number of AIDS-free individuals who care about people with a sexually transmitted disease. They may be empathic; they want to know how to act around AIDS positive folks. So, the best way to learn that is by watching a movie that revolves around the condition.

“Empathy promotes helping behaviors. Not only are you more likely to engage in helpful behaviors when you feel empathy for other people; other people are also more likely to help you when they experience empathy,” writes Kendra Cherry, MS.

The Characters Are Relatable

Although it’s sad, the truth is that more people are living with HIV/AIDS now than in the past. What’s worse is that the age range continues to expand as kids and teenagers contract this disease as well. There is no way out of this situation, but they at least find solace in seeing what the characters in the movies have done to make their life worthwhile.

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People Want To Learn How To Prevent Getting AIDS

Another reason why AIDS-centered films are no longer shunned away is that people want to know how they can avoid contracting the illness. After all, the story usually shows the life of the ill character before and after testing positive for AIDS. When you focus on the former, you will figure out what not to do, such as having unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Final Thoughts

It feels liberating to realize that the world is opening up individuals living with AIDS. The silver screen is one of the many tools to demonstrate that. It may be small, but the fact that filmmakers in various countries – not only in the US – use it can make a significant impact on society.

“Using techniques that address a client’s intersectional identities may be vital in developing a strong therapeutic alliance and providing a safe space for clients while also demonstrating cultural competence,” writes Kevin L. Nadal, PhD, and David P. Rivera, MS.

Let’s continue supporting AIDS-centered movies!

How To Turn Your Life Around After Feeling Like Ending It

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Many people who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS a few decades ago have had to live in isolation“A significant subset of men and women who are HIV-positive experience social rejection from family, from loved-ones (and) from partners, and those experiences of discrimination and rejection can really play out in difficult ways,” says Peter Vanable Ph.D, a professor and chair of psychology at Syracuse University.

No one understands the disease at the time, you see. All they know is that it is a transmittable illness and that being around a patient will cause them to acquire it, too. Of course, the virus does not work like that, but there is not enough information about the condition before. So, getting depressed to the extent of attempting suicide used to be common back then.

In the modern age, things have moved forward significantly. People have already realized that they cannot contract HIV even if they hug a patient or kiss them on the cheek. Instead of ridiculing the latter, therefore, they welcome friends or family members who have been diagnosed with the disease.

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Now, even though there may not be a lot of individuals who feel isolated due to HIV/AIDS, some still think about ending their life at times. The typical reason is the fact that the disease eats away at their immune system. Because of that, viruses from all directions are quick to attack their bodies. No matter how many vitamins they take every day, coughs, colds, and other illnesses continue to persist. It is as if there will never be a day when they can revel at how healthy they are.

Without trying to invalidate your emotions, life will always be too beautiful to end with a rope or a slit on the wrist. Know the symptoms of depression, know the symptoms of anxiety, so you know what’s happening to you,” says Melissa Lopez, MFT.  ”You have to be proactive to prevent another, deeper cycle of depression,” You are having HIV/AIDS will not change that. Here’s what to think about to stop wanting to end it.

You Have Unfulfilled Dreams

The minimum age limit for the patients continues to decrease every year as more kids subject themselves to unprotected sex. What it entails is that a teenager can have HIV/AIDS right now and maybe finding it challenging to inform their parents about it. There may be a young man who keeps on hiding all the medicine they need to take to (hopefully) counter the vi rus.

Even if you are 15 or 50, you will always be too young to die. Dreams do not end at a certain age. For sure, you still have plenty of unfulfilled dreams at the moment. Focus on fulfilling them instead of looking for a quick way out. “You are growing, learning, and so worthy of your amazing goal. If you have a dream in your heart, I fully believe it is planted in your heart because it is yours to be and to have,” says Wanda Krause, PhD.

You Cannot Ascend To Heaven If You Take Your Life

Whether you are religious or not, you may always want to go to heaven instead of hell when you pass away. The thought of being among the angels and living without pain is more exciting than the idea of getting tortured every day. You may think that you have experienced hell on earth, after all, so it is understandable if you want to seek peace when your soul departs.

We are not experts about heaven and hell, but based on what we’ve heard, you cannot ascend to heaven if you take your life. God has given it to you, so He is the only one who can reclaim it.

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Final Thoughts

The topic is honestly saddening because it happens all the time all over the globe. The more people get diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, the more the suicide rates continue to rise. We can only hope that this blog will deter you from doing the same thing if you have been dealt with the same cards.

Good luck!

Dietary Tips For HIV/AIDS Patients

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Having HIV/AIDS entails that there is now a virus in your system that will practically never go away. Your body will be battling it every day, even though there is no chance of winning against the disease. Still, you should stop eating fast foods and make healthy dishes to boost your immune system to give HIV/AIDS a great fight.

Not knowing what to cook and not having the time to prepare are very lame excuses for eating unhealthy stuff. If you have time to get your hair and nails done in the salon, if you have time to go to a bar with your friends after a day of work, then you surely can find the time to prepare healthy meals for yourself. As for what you can cook, you can go to any search engine to look for recipes. 

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Of course, salads should always be a part of your day, and you can change it up by adding fruits and vegetables so that your palate will always have a new taste to experience. Salads are great because they give you energy while helping you stay fit. Lots of doctors suggest having this food every day. You can also bake, steam, or grill your vegetables and some white meat. 

How To Embrace Healthy Eating 

The reason why a lot of people do not eat healthy stuff is that they become overwhelmed by the common belief that anything healthy tastes bland. The truth is, they can be as tasty as regular foods. If you are a fan of steak, bacon, and other meat products, you can always add them to your vegetarian dish, but only have them grilled. If you want eggs, only add egg whites. If you want chicken, boil or bake it. You cannot have white rice, white bread, or any forms of sweets all the time because they increase your carb content, but you can have brown rice, whole wheat bread, and brown sugar. Remember that you do not have to limit yourself with dull food; there is a healthy alternative for everything you eat.

Dietary Tips 

  • Choose ingredients that are free from fats, cholesterol, and sugar.
  • Do not use a lot of oil.
  • If you wish to fry something, use olive oil.
  • Always cook white meat instead of red meat.
  • Some dairy products like butter and cheese can make you fat.
  • Hotdogs and other processed foods are not suitable for your diet.
  • Say no to junk foods.
  • Stir-fry or grill your vegetables instead of frying them.

 

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Final Thoughts

The things mentioned above are just some of the basic ideas that you should know. There are many more, and you need to search for them on the internet. You also have to find the time to learn how to cook meals in a less fattening and healthier way. Just a rule of thumb, for your dish to be considered healthy, there should be more vegetarian items there than non-vegetarian ones. Always have fresh fruits and vegetables in your fridge, eat them whenever you get hungry, and you will be surprised by the difference that it will make on your weight and overall well-being after several weeks. 

Dealing With Rejection After Revealing Your Disease To People

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Hearing a specialist confirm that you have AIDS tends to make you wonder about a lot of things that you may have never thought of before. For instance, “Can I sit in the subway without people figuring out that I have a sexually transmitted disease?” “Is it okay for me to kiss my parents on the cheeks like I used to do?” “Can I hug my nieces and nephews without passing on the illness to them?” In short, AIDS can push a confident individual to doubt everything that they can or cannot do regularly.

The silver lining when it comes to acquiring AIDS in the 21st century is that disease-free people are more accommodating to the ill ones than ever. Most of them do not feel isolated and even have friends to defend or support them in times of need. Others get invited to become a public speaker and talk about social awareness regarding AIDS prevention. They are highly credible to do the latter because: a) they know how awful it can be to have AIDS, and b) they can teach life lessons to everyone based on their experience.

Despite all that, the individuals who have this sexually transmitted disease are not exempted from rejection. Sometimes, jobs and dates turn them away. Other times, their families cannot accept the fact that they have AIDS.

“Rejected LGB youth were 8.4 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to have risky sex,” writes Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, MS.

It is impossible to sugarcoat how sad it feels to get rejected by the people who are supposed to support you, but that’s life. All you can do is deal with rejection after revealing your disease to people. Here are a few tips on what to do.

Source: entreresource.com

Avoid Listening To Ridicules

The first thing is to stop absorbing the negative words that your bashers throw at you. You already know how negatively they feel about you. They may have expressed it in front of your face several times, and their ridicules have always hurt you. So, try not to be a masochist by staying idle when they start saying mean stuff about you. Retreat and look for other genuine people instead. It may also help to seek support from online counseling apps like BetterHelp. Or instead, you can focus your attention on bettering yourself by watching helpful and healing YouTube videos.

“A crisis such as this may give them permission to have and express these feelings,” Edward Dunbar, PhD, says. “People who have had painful experiences and no opportunities to heal tend to be more hostile in general, and they more easily channel their hostility toward groups the society is also against.”

Be Okay With The Reality That Not Everyone Will Understand

Even if your illness may not be AIDS, people are ready to give their negative opinions if you do something that’s out of the norm. For instance, you drop out of college on your last semester to become a freelancer. You start dating right after splitting with your boyfriend. Not everyone will be supportive because they do not understand how your life works, and that’s nothing to get frazzled about.

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Seek Support From Groups

In case your family and friends no longer want to get associated with you, you can seek support from non-profit organizations. Having trained counselors by your side who will guide you throughout can help you cope with feelings of rejection and loneliness. They are the ones who are spreading AIDS awareness and helping the patients live freely in society.  For sure, they will not hesitate to take you in if you ask.

“Social support networks are key to preventing HIV transmission, to professional caregivers, to immediate family members providing direct care, in the bereavement process following AIDS-related death, and for the HIV-positive individual,” writes David H. Whitcomb, PhD.

Final Thoughts

Getting rejected after revealing that you have AIDS can usually feel like death. You may get depressed and think that no one will love you anymore. You may not be able to stop replaying the ridicules that keep on rolling in your direction. However, you should not dwell on such ill feelings because you need all your strength to survive with this disease.

Good luck!

Clinical Depression Increases Death Risk Of HIV-Infected Patients According To Psychologists

A study by psychologists emphasized the high depression rate among individuals living with HIV. According to them, 60 out of every 100 patients have clinical depression. Yes, sadness and grief are normal emotions whenever people find out that they have HIV. However, morphing this into a full-blown clinical depression is a serious story. It has turned into an epidemic that’s rapidly growing across genders and races. The illness affects the quality of life of the afflicted, and their whole world crashes and burns.

Source: pixabay.com

Causes Of Clinical Depression In HIV Patients

There are various reasons why patients experience clinical depression. Contrary to popular belief, HIV infection does not necessarily translate to depression mainly because there are several “crisis points,” which a person with HIV can enter.

Some of these crisis points start with the initial HIV testing and diagnosis. Even if patients have not confirmed yet whether they are positive or not, they get paranoid and anxious. Some also do not pursue their testing because of the emotional crisis they are experiencing. Once these people know that they are HIV-infected, it adds to the burden they are carrying.

“It is important for practitioners treating HIV-infected individuals to be aware of the high likelihood of co-morbid mental health conditions, have a basic understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, and be prepared to partner with mental health professionals in the treatment of affected individuals,” writes David J. Moore, PhD, and Carolina Posada, BA.

Another common crisis point is when these people are deciding whether to share this sensitive information to their family and friends. Keeping this information is another stress trigger for them. They feel that disclosing that they are HIV-positive will not only lead to disgust and judgment from other people but will also be a reason for their loved ones to abandon them.

“Rejected LGB youth were 8.4 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to have risky sex,” writes Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, MS.

Source: afdw.af.mil

Other patients also feel more unstable whenever it is time for them to return to their regular lives. After finding out this big news, it is harder for them to make their way back to their routine – waking up in the morning, having breakfast, driving to work, having lunch with workmates, and driving by the road late at night. They feel more stressed out, knowing that it will never be the same for them after finding out their disorder.

“These studies showed that people with HIV preferred to hide their HIV identity as they thought that it impeded their progress towards returning to a ‘normal’ life,” Esther C. L. Goh, PhD, finds.

Lastly, they get pressured whenever they are in the medical setting. Some crisis points in this environment include the introduction of new medication, presence of physical illness, recognition of depression symptoms, and hospitalization. The higher the exposure to these kinds of things, the higher the chance that they spiral into depression.

Symptoms

If you have been tested positive of HIV, make sure to go for medical visits regularly. Doing this is the best way to control the infection. Outside these physical examinations and treatments, you should also ask your doctor to conduct a mental health assessment. Make sure to choose a clinician who is comfortable with you as sometimes they hold back information so that they will not insult a patient.

Your doctors are not the only ones responsible for tracking your symptoms. You should also know the signs which can translate to depression.

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling of self-guilt
  • Unable to sleep well
  • Problems in sustaining attention and concentration
  • Loss of pleasure and interest
  • Substance abuse
  • Disturbance in psychomotor
  • Pessimistic attitude
  • Challenging behavior in the medical setting
  • Persistent agitation
  • Constant changes in fatigue and energy level
  • Lower sex drive
  • Feeling sluggish all day
  • Inability to make decisions related to HIV infection treatments

Higher Death Risk

According to experts, HIV is not the only reason why these people die. Clinical depression also has a significant role in why there is a higher death risk among them. A study by the HIV Medicine tested the link between HIV, clinical depression, and mortality.

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“Our findings reinforce the need to assess and treat depressive symptoms and major depressive disorder in patients with and without HIV infection to potentially reduce mortality risk,” shares co-author Kaku So-Armah, Ph.D., a Medicine assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine.

The data came from the study of 129,140 veterans in 13 years – from 2003 to 2015. According to the survey, among these veterans, 30 percent of them were affected by HIV. Out of these 30 percent, more than half receive a diagnosis of depression. From here, the researchers found out that there is a 23 percent increased risk of death for those who are HIV-positive as associated with their depressive symptoms.

Treatment

There are several ways to treat depression, even if you have HIV. For one, you have to attend your medical checkups. Make sure not to stop taking both your depression and HIV medications unless your doctors tell you too. There are also different types of therapies you can go to, such as traditional counseling, stress management, acupuncture, and massage. For instance, you can try to undergo online counseling through apps such as BetterHelp. Through online counseling, you will be able to confide and ease the burden in your mind with the help of a licensed professional.

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