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Newly diagnosed

newly diagnosed

If you’ve just been diagnosed with HIV you might be feeling upset, shocked or angry. You might be having trouble taking in the things you’ve been told. Don't worry though - we're here to help.

I just got diagnosed with HIV. What do I need to know?

  • If someone with HIV is taking effective HIV treatment and has an undetectable viral load, they cannot pass on HIV. It can take up to six months on treatment for some people to become undetectable.
  • It's now recommended that everyone diagnosed with HIV starts treatment straight away – regardless of their CD4 count.
  • This treatment can be as simple as taking one or two pills once a day.
  • Successful HIV treatment means you can expect to live as long as anyone else.
  • Once your treatment is working properly, you may only have to see a doctor once or twice a year.
  • You can have a sex life with no risk of passing on HIV if you're on effective treatment and your viral load is undetectable.
  • HIV positive parents can have HIV negative children.

What is effective treatment?

We're using the term effective treatment to mean that someone is on treatment, taking it as prescribed and has an undetectable viral load.

In the UK this is usually classed as a viral load below 20 copies/ml.

Will I get good medical care?

It’s really important to go to a specialist HIV service to access medical care.

You’ll be advised to start treatment straight away in line with the British HIV Association (BHIVA) guidelines.

These recommend that anyone with HIV who is ready to commit to treatment should start regardless of their CD4 count.

This reflects the findings of the START study. It found that people who waited to start treatment until their CD4 count dropped to 350 (which is when people were previously advised to start) had a significantly higher chance of developing AIDS-related illnesses.

Starting treatment will also ensure you cannot pass on HIV.

If you were to wait until you got ill before seeking medical advice and starting treatment, it would be a lot more difficult to control your HIV and make you well again.

Most people who become ill from HIV are either diagnosed after they have become ill, or have not been using treatment.

If you don’t have an HIV doctor yet, call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 and they'll put you in touch with one.

You can also read about your healthcare options in the UK and the HIV treatment that is free for all people living with HIV in the UK.

What if I need help dealing emotionally with my diagnosis?

A positive diagnosis can be quite a shock. You might begin to question your future and start re-living your past sexual behaviour. This is perfectly normal and it is natural for you to start thinking: 'What if?' and 'If only'.

It might be worth getting some help with your mental wellbeing and coming to terms with having HIV. You can access counselling with one of our trained counsellors, face- to-face or online. You can also call our helpline THT Direct for more immediate support. In fact, we’re here to support you in any way we can, so just get in touch.

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Do I have to tell anyone that I'm HIV positive?

You might be thinking about who you can tell about being HIV positive - and who might find out. It’s only natural to think about who can support you during this difficult time. Before you make any decisions, why not talk it through with one of our helpline advisers or read some of our advice about disclosure.

If you have a detectable viral load, have unprotected sex and don’t tell your partner they may have concerns that they weren’t told sooner. If a partner is not told and they subsequently contract HIV as a result of having unprotected sex you could be prosecuted.

This used to be more of an issue when we understood less about the link between viral load and infectiousness. The PARTNER study has now found that if you are taking HIV medication and have an undetectable viral load you cannot pass on HIV. (Remember that it might take up to six months from the date of starting treatment before you become undetectable.)

How do I move on with my life after being diagnosed as HIV positive?

All of this might seem like quite a lot to manage on your own, along with running the rest of your life. But support is out there. By registering for a free myHIV account, you can access advice and support from our experts as well as our 3000+ strong online community of people living with HIV.

If you are newly diagnosed and need immediate support, please contact THT Direct on 0808 802 1221

More on how to deal with an HIV positive diagnosis:



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  • Very clear and precise explanation

    Posted 20:48 Sun 29 Jul 2012
  • I was told on the 10/10/2012 that i have HIV i was surprise and shocked i was not looking for this at all i am also angry and dont know what to do next

    Posted 12:28 Fri 12 Oct 2012
  • very shocked to here that i have hiv, i feel very angry at myself

    Posted 22:15 Thu 15 Nov 2012
  • My world stopped temporarily on 02/10/2012 when my partner was diagnosed. On the 25/10/2012 I was told I too was HIV positive. We are totally devastated!

    Posted 13:49 Sun 09 Dec 2012
  • also very shocked of the recent news 4 days before xmas and scared alone and didt want to tell anyone felt like id been in a huge road accident and il never recover but xmas day in evening i broke down as family all around me and my daughter age 25 was such a huge support over me telling her this news and even thou ive been throu many emotions in the last three weeks the best thing about this is family pulled closer to support me and my closst friends didt abandon me im very lucky to have this support as really could of gone the other way and il be there to support other not so lucky as me and meeting people with hiv at the tht trust has helped me alot you dont have to be alone with this so please dont be. thank you for your great support from littlewuu

    Posted 14:13 Thu 10 Jan 2013
  • Was diagnosed 06/02/2013. Wasn't expecting that result. More annoyed with myself and how long I've been putting off going for a test. Finding this website so useful!!

    Posted 15:46 Sun 10 Feb 2013
  • I was diagnosed in Summer 2012.
    My partner tells me she has since had a test and is negative. Now she is convinced that I must have cheated on her and basically avoids discussing the subject with me. And sex is never going to happen and not even a kiss. So this is life unless I leave her which I really dont want to do.

    Posted 00:51 Sat 16 Mar 2013
  • I am a grandmother. I tested positive on 5/10/13 & I am devastated. I feel like I must be the only woman of this age in the world who has tested positive for HIV.I have no idea how I will cope.

    Posted 22:23 Sun 13 Oct 2013
  • i'm newly diagnosed and feel quite numb, I feel like i'm floating it feels like a dream

    Posted 00:10 Thu 16 Jan 2014
  • I had an encounter which I felt so bad about as it wasn't like me. It was on the second January. 15 days later I got the worst flu ever. My doctor said it could be a number of things but also mentioned having a HIV test but I didn't want to do it through my doctor so I went to a separate clinic when I was able to drive. On the 5th Feb 2014 I got the diagnosis I was positive. I still don't know what to think. I haven't told anyone yet as i need to be able to hold it together myself first. I wake up thinking have I dreamt it but the fact I'm waking up wet with sweat and low energy and itchy rash reminds me I'm not. Saying that I'm just trying to get on with my life as normal and trying to make out to everyone I'm better now even though I still don't really feel too well. I guess it's almost like a form of denial. I expect this is probably normal. I'm hoping to start early treatment on Thursday 13th. Hopefully I won't have scratched all my skin off before then. :-).

    Posted 20:00 Fri 07 Feb 2014
  • Need to change my lifestyle and need to do it quick don't no why I don't. Don't understand HIV in and out but do understand that for years I've been just surviving and scraping by but now with this added I need some support as I can't do this anymore. I want to change. I will change. I just need organisation and facts. I'm there for everyone always have always will I look at me who's there for me? honestly no one I'm lonely and a little scared and fed up of acting and putting a smile on

    Posted 04:45 Sun 06 Apr 2014
  • I just found out i'm lost alone and scared

    Posted 15:23 Mon 21 Jul 2014
  • I just read though this , it's made me cry, i hadn't done so until now, was diagnosed on the 11 06 2014, I am coping better than i thought , thanks to the support i've had and continue to get, thanks for the help.

    Posted 02:14 Mon 28 Jul 2014
  • was told on 21/1/2015 was so shocked I new I caught a sti but thought I take a routine hiv test wish showed I had the virus, I was in shock but thanks to a very kind THT worker held my hand and sed you not alone am here to help you through it and to his word he's has, but am alone scared don't know how to asked the right questions,and its only been a week.

    Posted 21:43 Thu 29 Jan 2015
  • I not long found out I have HIV I am lost alone scared and need to talk to someone don't now witch way turn

    Posted 23:42 Thu 31 Aug 2017
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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 23/11/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 23/11/2018

Content Author: R. Scholey

Current Owner: Health Promotion

More information:

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National Center for Biotechnology Information
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HIV treatment as prevention and HPTN 052, Cohen MS1, McCauley M, Gamble TR
National Center for Boiotechnology Information
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Sexual Activity Without Condoms and Risk of HIV Transmission in Serodifferent Couples When the HIV-Positive Partner Is Using Suppressive Antiretroviral Therapy, Journal of the American Medical Association: Alison J. Rodger, MD; Valentina Cambiano, PhD; Tina Bruun, RN; Pietro Vernazza, MD; Simon Collins; Jan van Lunzen, PhD; Giulio Maria Corbelli; Vicente Estrada, MD; Anna Maria Geretti, MD; Apostolos Beloukas, PhD; David Asboe, FRCP; Pompeyo Viciana, MD1; Félix Gutiérrez, MD; Bonaventura Clotet, PhD; Christian Pradier, MD; Jan Gerstoft, MD; Rainer Weber, MD; Katarina Westling, MD; Gilles Wandeler, MD; Jan M. Prins, PhD; Armin Rieger, MD; Marcel Stoeckle, MD; Tim Kümmerle, PhD; Teresa Bini, MD; Adriana Ammassari, MD; Richard Gilson, MD; Ivanka Krznaric, PhD; Matti Ristola, PhD; Robert Zangerle, MD; Pia Handberg, RN; Antonio Antela, PhD; Sris Allan, FRCP; Andrew N. Phillips, PhD; Jens Lundgren, MD, JAMA. 2016;316(2):171-181. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.5148

Viral load, Michael Carter, Greta Hughson, NAM, Aidsmap, March 2014

More confidence on zero risk: still no transmissions seen from people with an undetectable viral load in PARTNER study, Gus Cairns, NAM, Aidsmap, July 2016

BHIVA guidelines for the treatment of HIV-1-positive adults with antiretroviral therapy 2015, Writing Group: Duncan Churchill Chair Laura Waters Vice Chair N Ahmed, B Angus, M Boffito, M Bower, D Dunn, S Edwards, C Emerson, S Fidler, †M Fisher, R Horne, S Khoo, C Leen, N Mackie, N Marshall, F Monteiro, M Nelson, C Orkin, A Palfreeman, S Pett, A Phillips, F Post, A Pozniak, I Reeves, C Sabin, R Trevelion, J Walsh, E Wilkins, I Williams, A Winston

New British guidelines recommend treatment for everyone living with HIV, Keith Alcorn, NAM, Aidsmap, 24/6/15

START trial finds that early treatment improves outcomes for people with HIV, NAM, Aidsmap, Gus Cairns, 27/5/15

START trial provides definitive evidence of the benefits of early HIV treatment, NAM, Aidsmap, Liz Highleyman, Produced in collaboration with hivandhepatitis.com, 21/7/15

Just Diagnosed With HIV, Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (2008)

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Being diagnosed HIV-positive, NAMLife (2010)

How the Immune System Fights Disease, San Francisco AIDS Foundation (2008)

Fidler S et al., Position statement on the use of antiretroviral therapy to reduce HIV transmission January 2013. The British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the Expert Advisory Group on AIDS (EAGA).

Crown Prosecution Service, Reckless transmission of infection.