An HIV test will come up positive usually about 12 weeks after infection but in some cases it can take as long as 6 months for an HIV test to turn up positive. It used to be that a positive HIV diagnosis would sound a death knell for most people but we now know enough about the disease and its management to help people live a relatively long and normal life even after the diagnosis.
After an HIV diagnosis
Typically after the diagnosis, the physician will perform further diagnostics to determine what stage a disease is at. The viral load test will see how much of the virus is present in the blood. The CD4 count will also indicate how far the infection has progressed.
In addition a drug resistance test may also be done to see what strain of HIV a person has and whether it is a drug resistant strain.
Over and above these diagnostic tests the doctor may also check for presence of other infections such as TB, hepatitis, any other sexually transmitted or urinary tract infections, any damage to the kidneys or liver because this can mean complications.
Life expectancy for HIV sufferers
In 1993, the life expectancy for a person diagnosed with AIDS was about 7 years after being diagnosed with the infection. Now however the average life expectance of those with HIV is 24 years after diagnosis.
Tips for managing an HIV infection
The doctor will outline the proper treatment plan for treating and managing HIV with antiviral medications and certain lifestyle modifications to help lower chances of infection. It is best to have a specialist oversee the treatment after an HIV diagnosis because they will also be able to help you deal with possible side effects of medications.
It is important to follow a healthy diet that will help combat the negative effects of the infection and also help shore up immunity and combat weakness and weight loss.
Care should be taken to maintain good mental health. Dealing with a diagnosis such as HIV can be very stressful and one may feel like avoiding normal social contact and fall into melancholy thoughts and isolation. This can increase chance of depression and worsen the prognosis of the disease.
Being socially active and involved can help a person with HIV live a normal life. Also working normally and socializing as before can help to challenge the brain and keep a person involved in normal activities.