HIV Diagnosis: What to Do If You Test Positive
Newly Diagnosed HIV Positive
Being diagnosed with HIV can be a confusing time. You may, quite naturally, feel overwhelmed. You may also have questions and concerns about what to do after receiving a positive HIV diagnosis.
The good news is that while there is currently no cure for HIV, it is a very manageable condition. Newer HIV medications are helping more HIV patients live longer, healthier lives a than ever before.
Make an Appointment with Your Healthcare Provider
The first thing you need to do after receiving a HIV diagnosis is to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Even if you have not developed symptoms of HIV, you can still transmit the virus to others. Ignoring you HIV diagnosis will not make it go away, and early treatment is critical for managing the disease.
Why Early Treatment is Important
Your healthcare provider can provide you with medications, supportive care, critical information and other resources to help you fight the disease.
If you do not currently have HIV symptoms, your healthcare provider can evaluate you to determine when to start treatment, as well as which HIV medications should be part of your treatment regime.
HIV Diagnosis Treatment
The bulk of HIV treatment centers around medications known as antivirals, or ARTs. Patients on antiviral therapy typically take a combination of medications which work to reduce the viral load (the amount of the active virus in your body) and slow the progression the disease.
What if I can’t Afford HIV Treatment?
People with an HIV positive diagnosis pay for treatment in a variety of ways, including private insurance. If you do not have health insurance, there are other resources that may help you. These include state, local and federal sources such as:
Medicaid provides medical coverage to qualifying low-income, disabled, children and the elderly at the state level. Each state has its own Medicaid program which they also administer. Eligibility varies widely state to state. Certain benefits are considered mandatory, while others are optional. To see if you qualify, contact your state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are over the age of 65. It also covers some others, such as younger people who are disabled, or who have end stage renal (kidney) disease which requires kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant. Medicare also covers certain HIV expenses, such as those associated with the cost of HIV medications. You can learn more about covered services here.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program
The Ryan White Foundation was created in honor of Ryan White, a courageous boy who contracted the HIV virus at age 13 following a blood transfusion. It now serves over half a million people living with HIV each year. The program impacts over half of all the people with an HIV diagnosis in the US.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS foundation works with patients living with HIV/AIDS who are underinsured or uninsured, providing access to a broad range of services including community-based programs.
The program is divided into five main categories, or parts, which grant funding to various groups for research, supportive care, personal assistance services for those living with HIV, and other HIV related health care. To find out more about the programs, funding and resources of the Ryan White Foundation, click here.
Patient Assistance Programs (PaPs)
Pharmaceutical companies also offer HIV medications at a heavily discounted rates to help cover the cost of necessary HIV drugs for patients who cannot afford them. You or your healthcare provider can apply using the Common Assistance Program Application form. ASP Cares can assist you with this.
ASP Cares is a full-service specialty pharmacy with a large stock of the latest HIV/AIDS medications. In addition to free, discreet nationwide delivery right to your door, ASP Cares has other resources and options to help you get access to your HIV medications. For more information on how ASP Cares can help you with all of your HIV medication needs.
HIV Testing: Can You Get a False Positive?
It is possible, but extremely rare to receive a false positive for an HIV test. It is far more likely for someone to receive a false negative because of the limitations of current testing methods. A false negative means that is tested and even though they are infected, the tests show them to be HIV free.
How does a false negative HIV test occur?
HIV tests are designed to detect the specific antibodies your body produces when infected with HIV. There is an interval of time, known as the “window period” in which the body simply has not had time to produce enough antibodies to be detected by the tests.
Because the tests cannot detect antibodies that your body has not yet produced, some people may believe that they are HIV negative, when in fact they are HIV positive. This is why repeated, regular testing is so critical to diagnosing HIV.
A false positive, on the other hand, occurs when someone who is not HIV positive is identified as having the virus. False positives occur in about three out of every 100,000 people tested.
When false positives occur, they are usually the result of the test detecting antibodies that are very similar to the ones created for HIV. Although rate, certain autoimmune disorders, such as lupus can cause a false positive.
There is no Single HIV Test
It is important to note that there is no single HIV test to diagnose HIV. Serological tests (which detect the presence of antibodies), performed in a specific order and combination however, can detect HIV with great accuracy, provided there has been enough time for the body to create them.
What is a Baseline HIV Evaluation?
A baseline evaluation is an initial examination. For those newly diagnosed as HIV positive, it typically includes laboratory blood work, other medical tests (such as X rays), a complete physical examination, taking a detailed medical history, and a consultation.
What Kinds of Lab Tests are Part of a HIV Baseline Evaluation?
A baseline HIV diagnosis evaluation may include a series of lab tests such as:
• HIV retesting (If the documentation for the original test is not available)
• Plasma HIV RNA test (to determine the patient’s current viral load)
• T cell count (also known as CD4 T lymphocyte count)
• Serology tests for hepatitis A, B and C
• Tests for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
• Fasting glucose (blood sugar levels)
• Genotype resistance testing
• Complete blood count and chemistry profile
More Resources for Those Who are Newly Diagnosed with HIV
At ASP Cares, we are experts in HIV. We offer comprehensive HIV support, access to alternative medication funding, as well as careful medication management for those living with HIV/AIDS.
If you, or someone you care about, has been given a positive HIV Diagnosis, we can help. Our caring dedicated reimbursement specialists can help you access programs to help cover your HIV medication costs. Our knowledgeable pharmacists can answer your questions and provide guidance on all aspects of your medication regimen.
We proudly offer discreet, free nationwide delivery of HIV medications right to your door. For more information, or to contact ASP Cares for a location near you.
This content does not represent medical advice. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. Nor is intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified medical provider.