Every day, 8,000 people die from AIDS. Over the course of a year that ends up being around 3 million people. Those who are living with this condition go through a range of emotions. How do we reach out and best help each individual going through having HIV/AIDS and also to their families going through the initial shock. How do we give them the help they will need?
1. Anger And Shock Of Initial Diagnosis
Remember when September 11th happened? We all remember the feelings and initial shock we felt as we watched the TV screen in sheer horror. The first time hearing the news of your diagnosis and how it will impact you for the rest of your life can a tough pill to swallow. Many become depressed and have questions on how they will tell their families and who they feel safe telling. Things to help let those who are going through this would be:
- Support and understanding
- Your love and guidance
- Let them cry on your shoulder if needed or in whatever way it helps them to know you are not going anywhere
- Listen and don’t try to give advice
2. Fear Of How It Will All Progress
What would your reaction be if you were told you are HIV positive? Would it feel like doomsday? Would you feel uneasy about the future? What about having a future family or deciding to have kids? The unknown can be a scary thing for anyone. Not knowing the best path to take when getting treatment options. There is also the decision on when to start the medications necessary to help prolong a happy normal life. There are many things to consider, that it can become overwhelming for anyone.
- Help be involved with their treatment options
- Be there for them while they are figuring out what to do next
- Give lots of hugs and comfort
- Plan out some things for the future to look forward to ex: traveling somewhere, visiting far away family, getting married, having a family, etc.
Many people will isolate themselves as their whole world is now crashing down and they don’t know what the future holds. They will shut down because they feel you won’t know how to help them. Or that you will treat them differently once they decide to let you know they are HIV positive. They also may feel their life is over and nothing else really matters anymore.
- Seek professional help if depression symptoms become too much for them
- Let them know what they mean to you
- Give encouragement when they do something outside their isolation comfort zone
- Find small ways to be there for them
- Help make their day
4. Fear Of Infecting Those Around You
Many will go through life having a fear of infecting their loved ones or even those around them. Why would they want to have another person go through this? Women who are HIV positive and want to be mothers will have a hard time choosing whether or not to bring children of her own in the world. She has an increased chance of bearing children that will be HIV positive themselves. Many also become extra cautious not wanting to spread the disease which will inhibit their personal lives.
- Reassure them that life is still beautiful! And to find joy in it
- Let them know you are not worried about being infected with HIV from them
- Help them understand you are there to support them in whatever endeavors they want for their future
- Don’t treat them differently because of being HIV positive.
Another great way to help your loved ones know of your support and to help get research for a cure would be, to donate one of your old cars that are not working anymore and gift it to the AIDS Research Alliance. You can help fight in this cause to make sure that those 8,000 dying every day will become zero.
Feature image courtesy of the examiner.