You are not alone

You don't need to face HIV on your own. Coming to terms with having HIV and what it means for you can take some time. Your first response is likely to be to turn to those who are closest to you, loved ones, family or friends.

There is also professional support available to you, no matter how long you've had HIV. You might find that support and counselling help you work out your feelings and experiences of HIV. If you feel that this might be useful, ask your clinic what sorts of counselling are available. Many clinics offer their own counselling, or can direct you to specialist groups and charities that you might find useful.

The largest HIV charity in the UK, the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has local offices in several cities and towns and also runs a national helpline (THT Direct), which you can call to talk to someone confidentially. The number for THT Direct is 0808 802 1221.

Some people find that meeting other people living with HIV helps them to feel that they are not alone. HIV organisations often have events or regular support groups that you might find useful at different times, for example, groups for people who have been recently diagnosed. There are also support groups in some organisations for gay men with HIV, or African men and women. Don’t feel that you have to attend a group if you’re not comfortable with the idea, and don’t think you’ve made a mistake if you’ve reacted to HIV differently to somebody else. Everyone deals with HIV in their own way.

For more information about local support you could ask someone at your HIV clinic, call THT Direct, or have a look at the section of this website called Finding information and support.

As well as support in person, and on the phone, many people turn to online support, such as discussion forums. As in any other situation, it’s a good idea to be careful about the personal information you give online. In the UK, you can register for THT’s online forum at www.myhiv.org.uk, designed so that people living with HIV can support each other online.

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this section.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.