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From Treat Yourself Right • 5 January 2009

If you have only recently learned that you are HIV positive, you may be feeling shocked, frightened, angry or upset. It may help to know that there are women from all over Australia and from all walks of life who are HIV positive. Positive women are from many different cultural and religious backgrounds, of all ages, sexualities, with and without children.

HIV is not a death sentence. Nowadays, more and more women with HIV are living longer, enjoying healthy and fulfilling lives, working, studying, having relationships and children, and making their own choices about treatment.

In addition, improved and inclusive research practices means that much more is now known about the effects of HIV treatments in women’s bodies.

As a woman with HIV living in Australia now, it is likely that you will live a normal life span. You are able to have sex, and you are able to have children. If you choose to have a child, it is extremely unlikely that your child will have HIV if you follow specialist advice.

Talking to someone you trust is important. This may be a friend, a relative, a doctor or someone from an AIDS organisation or an organisation specifically for people living with HIV/ AIDS (PLWHAPerson (or People) Living with HIV/AIDS.): Someone who has some knowledge of HIV is a good choice. You don’t have to tell everyone in your life now, or ever.

Many women feel a strong need to speak to another positive woman, but are unsure how to get in contact with one. Positive women in Australia have a strong commitment to providing support for each other and good communication networks. If you are unsure how to contact a positive women’s group, contact your local AIDS organisation or PLWHA (People living with HIV/AIDS organisation) and explain that you want to make contact with another positive woman. The worker should then put you in touch with your closest positive women’s group who will find you a person to talk with.

You will need to take medicine at some point to control HIV. The drugs used to treat HIV are called antiretrovirals (ARVA medication or other substance which is active against retroviruses such as HIV. for short) and they are used in combinations of three or more together. The treatment of HIV is evolving. The drugs do have side effects and some individuals find more difficulties with them than others. There may be some trial and error before you find the right drugs for you. New drugs and new combinations of drugs are being researched with the aim of reducing side effects and improving effectiveness(Of a drug or treatment). The maximum ability of a drug or treatment to produce a result regardless of dosage. A drug passes efficacy trials if it is effective at the dose tested and against the illness for which it is prescribed. In the standard procedure, Phase II clinical trials gauge efficacy, and Phase III trials confirm it..

Treat Yourself Right

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This Resource was first published on 5 January 2009 — more than five years ago.

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