Why join an HIV Support Group?
The most important reason to join an HIV Support Group when you're newly diagnosed is to meet others in the same situation. HIV can make you feel very alone because it's hard to know who to tell. And being an expat in a foreign country can make isolation even worse. But there's relief in sight: everyone I work with says they felt tangible relief after attending their first support group.
Your privacy is guaranteed. Every member signs an agreement to protect the privacy of all others before they attend our group.
The HIV Support Group is completely free to attend. You can attend for one session or more - it's always completely up to you. The group is professionally facilitated by a counsellor (me: Scott). Every member must agree to protect the privacy and confidentiality of every other member, before they attend the group.
Three things you need to know right now...
You are not dying - many people with HIV live normal and healthy lives with HIV and you can too.
You are not alone - there are other people living with HIV. Hearing from them will help you learn to live with this news and make positive decisions about what to do next.
Take your time - there is no need to do anything right now. You don't need to immediately tell a lot of people that you living with HIV. Relax and breathe - take some time to think about things for a few days.
The most important thing you need to know is that you should find a good HIV specialist in Bangkok and follow their advice. If you need help to learn about the range of great doctors and clinics in Bangkok please call me.
To tell others or not to tell?
You don't need to tell a lot of people right now. But it's very helpful to tell someone you trust and that you know will be supportive and caring.
Some important questions to consider:
Will they tell others? Are they going to gossip? If yes, not telling may be a good idea.
Will they be angry or upset with you? If yes, then it may be helpful to delay telling them until you've had more time to think it through.
Will they judge you? If yes, then delay telling them until you've had more time to think
You don't have to tell your boss, your workmates, you friends or your housemates that you have HIV.
You will be concerned to tell your regular partner(s) that you have HIV. Talking to other people living with HIV about their experiences telling others is very helpful because many have had to tell partners and you can learn from their experiences.
Sex, health and HIV
You can still have sex when you are living with HIV. But there are some things to be aware of that you may not have thought of yet.
The first thing - You can pass HIV on to others that you have sex with. The best way to stop this is to use condoms and lubricant when you have vaginal or anal sex. Starting HIV treatment can help to reduce the risk of passing HIV on to others.
The second thing - Protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis by using condoms.
The third thing - if you are a woman thinking of having a baby or already pregnant there is help available. Talk to your doctor because there are medicines available that can help you stay healthy while also helping your baby to stay free from HIV.