With the right treatment and care, many people living with HIV can expect to live just as long as someone who is HIV negative
I’ve been diagnosed HIV positive, what now?
If you’ve just been diagnosed HIV-positive the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Different people have different reactions to finding out their status, and at Gaya Dewata we encourage you to seek out other people living with HIV to share your feelings and experiences.
If you have been told that we are infected with HIV, this means that your body has the HIV virus as well as the antibodies to help fight the HIV infection. Having HIV does not necessarily mean that are ill, will develop AIDS, or that you are dying. With modern HIV treatment, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. It is important that you to not rush to make a decisions or take drastic action after your diagnosis. You should give yourself time to become more comfortable with your new status.
ART or antiretroviral therapy
You may have heard that HIV will develop into the fatal AIDS for which there is no cure. This is no longer the case! Most of the opportunistic infections associated with HIV can be treated and more importantly prevented, with drugs that are not too expensive and widely available. These drugs inhibit the progression of HIV in the body so that people with HIV can live longer and avoid AIDS. These drugs are known as antiretroviral drugs or ARVs. ARV drugs must be taken for life and to be most effective require consistent adherence (taking them at the same time every day). This is vital as consistently forgotten courses of ARV may severely limit the effectiveness of the therapy.
The drugs for ARV are very expensive, but the Indonesian government has made them available to HIV positive Indonesian citizens. Fully subsidized ARV medication is available through select hospitals and clinics who specialise in patients living with HIV.
Currently the Indonesian government is running a pilot project named SUFA (Strategic Use of ARVs). This is a pilot project in order to break the chain of HIV transmission by providing antiretroviral treatment strategy for people living with HIV immediately. Previously, new PLWHA advised to start ARV therapy when CD4 (an immune system cell attacked by HIV) numbers fell under number 350. This is important as being on ARV dramatically limits the chances of you passing on HIV to anybody else.
To improve compliance (compliance is when the drugs are taken consistently), the government has started issuing fixed dose combination antiretroviral drugs so that people living with HIV only have to take one pill once a day. Previously people living with HIV had to take a number of pills each day.
Peer Support Groups (KDS)
Currently in Bali there are many active peer support group for people living with HIV. These groups seek to help people living with HIV, especially people who are recently diagnosed. The groups aim to build a supportive community as well as create a forum for people to share information related to the care and treatment.
Remember peer support and encouragement are very important, especially from other people living with HIV. If you are feeling feelings of anger, sadness or cannot accept that you have HIV, please contact our staff or attend one of the groups. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
YGD currently has four peer support groups, namely:
- KDS Warcan (for Transgender with HIV)
- KDS Homeboys (for Transgender with HIV)
- KDS Pelangi Hati (for gay and MSM with HIV)
- KDS Cowok Keren (for gay and MSM with HIV)