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What is the future for HIV positive individuals?

Q: I have tested HIV positive by both ELISA and Western blot tests in different labs. I don't have any symptoms but I went for the test for visa purpose. Right now I am very healthy, in fact, I am putting on weight. I used to exercise for 2 hours daily and haven't had fever in the past 4 to 5 years. I want to know what is the possibility of getting my tests wrong? What should I do now? I'll be grateful if you could suggest me a doctor who can solve my problem in Madras.

A:If one test was positive I would have recommended that more tests should be done but as you have tested positive for both tests (the ELISA and a confirmatory test - Western Blot) then you must accept that you have HIV infection. This is sad but you must continue to live your life the best way you can. Please remember that there is a gap of many years between HIV infection and the development of the serious consequences such as AIDS. This time lapse is an average of nearly ten years and in many cases can be much longer. Therefore the chances are that you have a long life ahead of you and your own actions can minimise the ill-effects of this infection. Please seek the help of a competent HIV/AIDS counsellor and select a doctor who can advise you and help you. I cannot give in this response all the information you need but will mention a few highlights.

  1. Though HIV infected you probably have a long life in front of you. Life has not ended.
  2. You must be careful that you do not pass on the infection through unprotected sex to your partner.
  3. You must also ensure that you do not get a repeat infection of HIV from someone else as that can worsen your health.
  4. Never donate blood.
  5. You must try a live a regular life with adequate nutritious food and enough exercise and sleep.
  6. No infections must be ignored - always seek medical advice and treatment for any change in your health status, even for minor illnesses.
Specific treatment for the HIV virus is now available in India. Though anti-retroviral drugs do not cure the disease, they do suppress the ill effects of the infection. Antiretrovirals need to be started only when your immune system is compromised so that your T4 cell count comes to below a certain specific level and not before. Put yourself under the care of a good HIV/AIDS physician and continue to live positively.

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