Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV — you have most likely studied about it at one point in your life. Now, a loved one of yours has just been diagnosed, and you want to be of help. You want to support your loved one as they live their life with an incurable virus.
For those unaware, HIV attacks the body’s immune system through the CD4 cells. These cells are the ones responsible for fighting the infections in your body. Without them, the body then becomes more susceptible to more infections, all taking advantage of your already weakened immune system.
After testing positive for the virus, your loved one may now be acting on fear and anxiety regarding their condition. Listed below are the common emotions patients experience upon diagnosis, and what you can do to help them cope in each stage.
This is completely normal for some people to deny the truth in the beginning. The problem here is that being in denial could prohibit patients from seeking treatment.
What you can do is to communicate with your loved one and make them feel that you will be there all throughout. Stick with them until they learn to accept their situation and seek medical support. You can also help them reach out to a disability lawyer in Utah to know the benefits and assistance that they can receive.
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees living with HIV against discrimination from employers, local governments, and agencies. This also means protecting their right to confidentiality and privacy.
Like being in denial, some patients get angry after finding out about their condition. It is important that they are able to release this through exercise and hobbies, for instance, instead of involving people and situations.
Depression is also a normal reaction upon diagnosis, but this must be addressed early on. If not, this could lead to not only weight gain or loss and sleeplessness but also guilt and helplessness. It is essential to be involved in support groups, and most importantly, spend quality time with family and friends.
Fear, Anxiety, and Stress
While they fear for their current situation, patients also start to expect for the worst, thus causing them extreme stress and anxiety. Your loved one may be thinking of the stigma associated with HIV, for one. Or, they may be thinking of the “burden” they are causing to their family due to medical expenses they are incurring.
To help your loved one move forward, encourage and support them in doing the following things:
- Consult a doctor for anxiety or depression treatment
- Volunteer in HIV services and organizations
- Learn more about HIV to reduce fear
- Be part of a support group
- Talk to family and friends
- Take care of themselves (healthy diet and enough sleep)
- Seek therapy and medication for their well-being
- Know that they are not alone
People living with HIV deserve to be treated with respect. Empathy goes a long way in making them feel hopeful and encouraging them to continue seeking medical support. Empathy, along with acts of kindness, also greatly helps in fighting the stigma surrounding HIV.