Just found out you have HIV?

Michael Carter, Greta Hughson

It’s difficult to predict exactly what emotions and feelings you’ll experience in the first few hours and days after finding out you have HIV, as these vary so widely from person to person. However, commonly reported reactions include feeling numb, frightened, upset, confused, shocked, desperate or angry. Some people, particularly if they have been ill for some time, have said they felt relieved to have a diagnosis.

It can be difficult to appreciate this at the time, but finding out you have HIV puts you in a position where you can start to take steps to look after your health. Good treatment and care mean that people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. The sooner HIV is diagnosed, the sooner you can receive appropriate medical care – and get any support and advice you need.

The fact that you have HIV might be the only information you take in on the day of your diagnosis. You should have had an opportunity to talk to someone, like a health adviser or counsellor, after you received your test result, and you may have been able to ask a few questions at this stage. There are no right or wrong questions to ask, and don’t worry if you didn’t understand or can’t remember everything you were told. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to get more information later.

Published April 2013

Last reviewed April 2013

Next review April 2015

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 It may have been superseded by more recent developments.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.