What it means to have HIV

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Your test results have come back and it shows that you've been infected with the HIV sickness.

People living with HIV can lead long and healthy lives.

HIV is a manageable sickness with daily medication, you can still have relationships, have sex, have kids, work, play sport, go fishing and hunting.

You just need to change the way you do some things to make sure you and your people stay safe and healthy.

Right now you may feel shocked, worried or angry... that's okay.

Maybe you have some questions you'd like to ask.

What is HIV in the immune system?

Your body has an immune system which protects you from illness.

It is made up of special cells in your blood which fight illness and infection and keep you well.

HIV is a tiny virus, when it gets into your blood it uses your immune cells to multiply.

Over time it damages your immune cells so they can't fight off infections.

When the immune cells are damaged by HIV they become weak and can't protect you from infection, so you will get sick and you may even die.

There is no cure for HIV but there are strong medicines that stop HIV from multiplying.

This helps your immune system get stronger, so it can keep you healthy.

You must take the medicine every day, when a doctor takes a blood test they can measure how much HIV is in your blood.

This is called viral load.

The medicine can stop nearly all the HIV from multiplying, which means that over time there is less and less HIV in your blood.

By taking the medicines every day, there will eventually be such a small amount of HIV in your blood, the doctor will not be able to detect it with a blood test.

This is called undetectable. This is what we want to happen.

HIV never completely goes away, but if you keep it at an undetectable level, your immune system will grow stronger.

You will stay well and you will not pass on HIV to someone else if you have unprotected sex.