USCC Events Calendary
Contact USCC Gleams

Your Emotional Health

 - About HIV Menu-
Stages of HIV
Immune System Care
Coping with Symptoms
Glossary of Terms
USCS Services
Important Facts
Ryan White Title II
Vital Resources
Your Emotional Health
Incidence Rates
About HIV Home

Your Emotional Health

The fact that you have HIV will change your life - forever. Only those who have received the news "You have HIV..." know what it is like and experience the range of emotions. Some of the emotions you may be experiencing or might experience include:


Denial is different for each person but the idea is the same, it is the feeling that what is happening is not real. "There must be some mistake." "That test must have been faulty." "This can not be happening to me."


Anxiety is general feeling of uneasiness. This can be intense at times, but it will get better. It usually includes racing thoughts and powerlessness.


Anger is a normal emotion that a lot of people living with HIV experience, and can be part of a healthy response. Anger by itself is not a bad thing: it is what people do with their anger that can be bad. People are sometimes angry with God, themselves, the person who told them of their status, at the person they think exposed them, or at the disease.


Depression is sometimes called anger turned inwards. Someone who is depressed feels like there is no hope and experience sadness. A lot of people with HIV go through these feelings when they are first diagnosed. Some people may only experience two of these feelings and get over them quickly. Other people may have these and lots more. It is different for everyone. It is very likely that these feelings will come back.


Acceptance is an important part of the emotional process of coping with HIV or any life-changing situation. In order to move on you have to get to the point that you can accept HIV as a part of your life, and decide that you are going to deal with it. Just because you accept something does not mean that you have to like it. However, for you to live your life and be happy, you have to take care of yourself in new ways, accepting that HIV is a part of your life is a beginning. The more you learn about HIV the better.

Suggestions for coping with HIV

It is important that you have someone to whom you can talk when you experience these emotions. If you do not have someone with whom you feel you can confide you might try a counselor or a support group. There are several support groups in the area. A lot of people are able to get a great deal of help from their support group. They are confidential and it sometimes helps to talk to people who are going through the same things and have had the same thoughts and feelings.

After receiving the news of your HIV infection, you probably missed some of the information that you were given. It is common for someone's mind to go "blank" after being told that they are living with HIV. You might have thought that you were going to die the next day or the next week. You may need to go back to your medical provider's office for a revisit. There are a lot of people who can help; nurse educator, case manager, or if you prefer there is a lot of information on the Internet and in books.

You may find that the following suggestions are helpful to you in coping:

AIDS ribbonThink about someone that you love and trust that you can talk to about HIV. Do not feel like you have to tell everyone right away. It will happen when you are ready. But do try and find someone to whom you can talk.
AIDS ribbon Learn as much about HIV as you can and begin your own health care plan. Members of your HIV health care team can help you.
AIDS ribbon As you take charge of your health care and develop a plan, use words like "I can" ... "I will" ... "I plan to" ... "We can" ... "I know I can". These words help develop a positive and healthy attitude.
AIDS ribbon Think of yourself as your own best advocate, and take an active role in your health care.
AIDS ribbon Develop a strong support system or network of family and friends. In a time of need you will need to know whom you can call. Carefully select these people

Many people living with HIV are living productive, happy lives. They have learned to adjust, and they have found ways to improve their physical and emotional health. Living well with HIV means taking care of your body and your mind. Understanding your feelings is a big part of the process. It may take time for you to accept HIV, but once you do, you have taken a big step in fighting the illness. Many have found that emotional support, meditation, prayer, and laughter have helped them keep their bodies and minds balanced and strong.

Selected suggested reading:

Healing HIV: How to rebuild your immune system. Jon D. Kaiser, M.D., Health First Press, 1999

HIV Plus: Research and Treatment. Bimonthly magazine

POZ. Monthly Magazine

Positively Aware. Monthly Magazine

AU: Monthly Magazine

Copies of all of these and many others may be available through USCC

Back to the Top

USCS 864.555.1212 | Client Line 800.555.1212