Skip to main content

Newly diagnosed with HIV

Whatever your age, gender, sexuality, race or level of education – feeling shock, anger, guilt or blame is normal.  

Whoever you are, HIV can be controlled (made undetectable) with the appropriate treatment. You will have HIV for life, but treatment can keep you healthy and stop you from passing HIV to anyone else. This is called being undetectable. 

The best thing is to be open with your healthcare provider – ask them all the questions you have so that you feel informed about HIV. 

What does an HIV diagnosis mean?

It means that the tests you had for HIV found the virus in your body. It won’t stop you living a full and healthy life, you will just have to take treatment to manage HIV. 

How did I get HIV?

It’s completely normal to wonder how you got HIV. Most people get HIV from having sex with someone who has HIV. But people can also get HIV from their mother if they have HIV when they are pregnant with you. Or from sharing needles to inject drugs with someone who has HIV. 

Will I get AIDS? Am I going to die?

HIV is the virus, and AIDS is when you get very sick if HIV isn’t treated. Lots of people are scared of dying when they are told they have HIV. This is because before treatment was available, HIV would lead to AIDS and eventually death. But now, treatment for HIV is very effective and if you take it properly, you will live as long as anyone without HIV. 

Is it normal to feel this emotional?

Everyone reacts differently when they find out they have HIV. You may feel a wide range of emotions from guilt or blame, to shock or anger, at yourself or another person. This is very normal, and most people have lots of emotions when they are told they have HIV. Remember, you don’t have to manage on your own – having someone to talk to about your feelings can help. 

When should I start treatment?

The latest guidelines recommend that you start treatment straight away. This will give your body the best chance of keeping your immune system strong and staying healthy. You will need to take treatment for the rest of your life, so make sure that you feel ready to start. 


How can I stay healthy?

Alongside taking treatment, try to look after yourself by eating healthy food and exercising. It’s also important to go to regular appointments with your healthcare provider to check how your body is responding to treatment. 

Taking care of yourself

Let's talk about being diagnosed with HIV!

Here are a few questions to help kick-off discussions on the issues you need to talk about! You can share them on social, on WhatsApp or just get talking.

See full details for this resource
See full details for this resource
See full details for this resource
See full details for this resource

Join the conversation

Looking for more detailed information?

Who can I talk to about being diagnosed with HIV?

There are lots of people you can talk to about your HIV diagnosis to get help and support: 

  • your healthcare provider – they can help you manage your HIV so that you live a long and healthy life 

  • a trusted friend or family member – they can support you through this time in your life 

  • an HIV organisation or charity – they can help you learn about HIV 

  • a counsellor – they can help you manage your emotions and feelings 

  • a support group – it can help to hear from other people who have HIV too, so you don’t feel alone  

  • an online forum – this can help you learn about HIV online rather than face-to-face with someone. 

How can I support someone who is newly diagnosed with HIV?

Being newly diagnosed with HIV can be an emotional experience. If you know someone in this position, you could do some of these things: 

  • thank them – for trusting you with their HIV status 

  • learn about HIV – the more you know about HIV, the more you can support them 

  • be available to talk – this will help them feel less alone 

  • listen to them – every person will have different emotions 

  • reassure them – that you are still there for them, that this doesn’t change your relationship and that you will keep their status confidential (private) 

  • offer treatment support – some people find it hard to adhere to their treatment so you could remind them to take it. 

Join the conversation

Next: Sharing your status

Explore more

Still can't find what you're looking for?

Share this page

  • Last updated: 31 March 2022
  • Last full review: 01 March 2022
  • Next full review: 01 March 2025
Did you find this page useful?
See what data we collect and why