How to support someone who is just diagnosed

So I will start this off by saying that this as well as my other work is my own perspective.


So you’ve just been told by someone that they are HIV positive and have just been diagnosed. What do you do?

First off this can also be used if someone has just come to you and disclosed their HIV status to you as well.

Through my experiences these are my recommendations on what you can do:

1. Support is everything. Even if you are just there physically for the person to talk to you being there is the most important thing. Support does not always have to be vocal so just bear that in mind.

2. Understanding and patience because that someone has probably just received the most shocking news of their lives. The reaction can differ so expect the unexpected. The person just being diagnosed may not want to talk or may become introverted. Just understand that it is ok to be down or sad for a moment, but to only step in when you notice a drastic change in quality of life.

3. It is not about you, so while someone is dealing with a friend or lover who has just been diagnosed do not do thinks like make “I,” statements or after listening to what that person is saying changing the subject to something about you.  You are there as a friend, colleague, or as support so do just that and not make him or her feel less valuable or important because of you commandeering the conversation or mood.

4. Hold off judgments because at this time the individual who has just found out their status and have come to you trusts you.  It is simple, if you do not have anything nice to say then do not say anything at all.  Also, refrain from questions like, “Who gave it to you?” and “Who have you been sleeping with?” which can come off very crude.

5. Confidentiality:  This is a big one folks.  Someone who is telling your their status (probably for the first time) is putting their trust in your and bringing their walls down.  He or she probably also knows and fear the related stigma and knows you will not judge them.  With that said keep what they are telling you to yourself.  Become a vault and keep that top secret information to yourself.

6. Educate yourself on HIV/AIDS and know about it.  Don’t tell people there are a cure for HIV (currently there is no cure).  Providing misinformation and false hopes can cause damage to a newly infected person.  If you are not sure ask a medical professional or check out a resource like The Body or Poz.  Heck even watching YouTube videos on how people found out they were HIV positive help as well (after you get a feel on what that person went through and how they felt).

7. Love because during this time someone newly diagnosed in my experiences and perspective can feel lonely, unwanted, dirty, and worthless.  Spend more time with him/her or if they allow try to plan a weekend getaway.  It is important to show them that you care and if you are in a relationship (dating, married, etc) try to do something nice and romantic (which does not have to include sex).   20130520-110704.jpg

The list can go on and on; however, it is very important to show support, have understanding/patience, be self-less, be non-judgmental, confidential, educated, and loving.  These things can help someone who is just going through or has been dealing with HIV and now wants to tell you.   Also just like my friend Calvin says, people definitely need to understand that dealing with HIV is a process.  It will take time and the most confident person in the world can go as low as feel like a tiny ant in the confidence department.  I know that there are many more things that can be added.  What other things would you add?

..And don’t forget my blog

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