I just found out

Finding out you have HIV can be a life changing experience. You may be feeling shock, anxiety, denial or anger but know that you are far from alone and there are many places which can offer you support.

HIV is no longer considered the terminal illness that it was in the 1980s. Major improvements in treatments means that in most cases HIV is now a manageable long-term condition and no longer a death sentence. HIV should not stop you from living a healthy and active life.

If you have just found out you have HIV you may want to know the facts about HIV or continue reading for more information and where to get support.

Understanding your results

You may have tested positive on a rapid test. This test is very accurate and a positive result means that HIV antibodies have probably been detected in your blood. Visit our testing page for more information. For certainty it is recommended that you subsequently have a more accurate test at a clinic where your blood will be taken. This result can take up to two weeks to receive the results. It is not unusual to feel scared and lonely during this time. Talking to someone during this time can be extremely helpful and comforting. Use our service finder to find the right support for you.

Am I going to die?

There is no cure for HIV but if diagnosed early and with the right treatment it is possible to have the same healthy life expectancy as someone who does not have HIV. Although there have been many deaths there has also been many people who acquired HIV in the early 1980s and are still living healthy and well today. Some of them have always been well and some were unwell until effective treatments came out in the 1990s. These days, HIV is now considered a chronic health condition, not a terminal illness.
Click here for more information on treatment.

Seeing a HIV specialist

Once you are diagnosed you will need a HIV specialist doctor to help you keep track of your health. Your first appointment with an HIV specialist should be made for you within at least 14 days after you are diagnosed. Click here to find out what to expect at your first hospital appointment.

Do I have AIDS?

HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. HIV attacks the immune system, which is the body’s defence against disease. If you have HIV and it severely damages your immune system you may develop physical ailments such as pneumonia or Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It’s the presence of conditions such as those that are used to diagnose someone as having AIDS. In the 1980s and early 1990s before treatments were available, the term AIDS was used frequently but the effectiveness of new treatments means that very few people living with HIV in Scotland go on to develop AIDS anymore. Visit the basic facts to learn more.

Will I need to go on treatment?

Treatments are incredibly effective and are highly recommended. Your HIV specialist will discuss treatment options and implications with you but you can also get more information from our treatment page. Depending on the results of your blood tests you may or may not need to go on HIV treatment right away. Being on treatment can now involve as little as taking one or two pills a day.

Who can I talk to?

Many people find it useful to talk to someone. Don't try to deal with things on your own, finding the right support is essential. Professional and confidential advice is available from your clinic or doctor or use our service finder to find the support you need. There are also peer support websites where you can speak with other people living with HIV such as MyHIV.

See telling others for more information talking to people about your HIV, such as family, friends or sexual partners. Many people are surprised by the positive reaction of their loved ones, whereas others may feel regret about having told. Not everyone needs to know and you should think carefully about how, when or if to tell those close to you as their reactions may not be what you expect.

Can I still have sex?

Yes. The two most effective ways of ensuring you don’t pass on HIV is to use condoms and water based lube and to be on HIV treatments. Click here for information on protecting yourself and others

Who to tell & how

Eventually you will face making a decision on who to tell about your HIV positive status. People you might want to tell include friends and family, sexual partners, healthcare workers, your employer, school or college.

Find out more