Choosing a doctor, therapy and more
If you have received a positive HIV test result, you should have a medical consultation as soon as possible.
Your doctor will take a sample of blood to see how much HIV you have in your body. They will also determine how much damage the virus has done to your immune system.
These tests will be done regularly from this point on. If the tests show that the level of HIV in your body has rapidly increased or that your immune system has already been damaged, your doctor will recommend that you start HIV treatment.
Depending on when you are diagnosed, you may not need treatment straight away. But it is important not to wait too long to start treatment, so that the virus does not do too much damage to your immune system.
Which doctor is right for me?
It is very important to find the right doctor. Only an HIV specialist is able to estimate the progression of your HIV infection and choose the right treatment at the right time for you. Doctors who specialize in HIV are called "Schwerpunktärzte" in German. Some hospitals also have outpatient HIV clinics where you can be treated.
Your local AIDS service organization can help you find a doctor who specializes in HIV. If you live in a small town or village, there may be no specialist doctors and no AIDS service organization there. You should make the effort to travel to the next large town. HIV-positive people who are treated by HIV experts are likely to live longer and healthier lives.
Another important factor for successful HIV treatment is your doctor, who should give you the feeling that you are in good hands. Do you have the feeling that they explain things clearly and that you can trust them? If not, you are well within your rights to look for another doctor.
There are many different medications used to fight HIV. Because the virus is constantly changing, HIV treatment works best if you take several drugs at the same time. This is called combination therapy.
The treatment aims to prevent the virus from multiplying in your body, and to reduce the amount of virus to very low levels. HIV can then no longer cause any great damage to your body.
Despite the therapy, HIV remains in some cells. If you stop taking the medication, the virus will start to multiply again. For this reason, HIV medication must be taken for the rest of your life.
Most medications are taken once or twice a day. You may experience side effects such as diarrhea, nausea or headaches.
Your doctor will work with you to find the medication that causes the fewest side effects. All in all, most people with HIV are able to incorporate their treatment into their day-to-day life.
You may feel that the positive HIV test result marks a turning point in your life. That is completely normal. It can take time for you to be able to deal with your new situation.
You may experience great fear, deep sadness or feelings of guilt for a long time. Or it may simply be difficult to find the strength to take control of your life.
You can seek professional help in order to cope with these feelings - for example at an AIDS service organization. There you will find experienced counselors. They know how they can best support you.
AIDS service organizations also offer counseling over the phone and on the Internet. You do not have to give your name. If you use our online counseling service, you can also ask to talk to an HIV-positive staff member.
If you wish to take advantage of long-term psychological help, the AIDS service organization can put you in touch with suitable psychotherapists.