When most people talk about HIV today, it is almost perfunctory to say, "It is no longer a death sentence." While that may be true, it certainly does come with its fair share of serious consequences. Just ask anyone living with HIV, and they will gladly tell you about the woes and wariness that come with the virus. Although HIV is manageable, the costs of a diagnosis are nothing to make light of. If you are HIV-positive, you will learn to adjust. But if you are HIV-negative, this is why you still want to avoid HIV at all costs.
These are six HIV life sentences that come with a new diagnosis.
1. Financial burdens.
Regardless of your job or financial situation, HIV is one costly virus to contract. Although there are plenty of options for people who don't have or can't afford insurance, managing the virus can still take a toll on your pocketbook. Even if you have the Rolls-Royce of insurance plans, the costs of regular lab work and co-payments for medication can add up over time. Ask anyone living with HIV, and they will tell you about the financial stress that comes with the virus. Trust that this is one expense worth avoiding.
2. Premature aging.
Even though the dramatic physical effects of HIV have significantly diminished since the advent of modern antiretroviral medications, the virus can still cause signs of premature aging. No amount of moisturizer in the world can prevent this inevitable symptom of the virus. If you don't want to worry about wrinkles or joint pain before you have to, you might want to take a closer look at safer sex practices.
3. Dating dilemmas.
Although disclosure usually gets easier with time, it is never fun to stress over the possibility of being rejected because of your HIV status. Even with prevention methods like TasP (treatment as prevention), PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and the time-tested condom, there will always be people who are too afraid to date a person living with the virus. In addition to the initial disclosure, an HIV-positive person also has to wonder if their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend will share their status if the relationship ends badly. And let's face it, what relationship doesn't?
4. Doctor visits.
In addition to their costs, the frequent doctor visits can be quite the time management crunch. Even after you have the disease under control, you will still need to visit your doctor every four months to make sure your medication is still working and that your organs are functioning correctly.
5. Increased risks for other (serious) diseases.
It is true that a person diagnosed with HIV today can live as long as they would if they were HIV-negative, but only if they actively manage their health. People who are living with HIV are at a much higher risk for life-threatening diseases and health complications such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure, just to name a few. When you are 35 or 40 years old, you should not have to worry about things like heart inflammation and bone density, but that is exactly what you will need to be aware of if you want to live a long and healthy life with HIV.
6. Chronic anxiety.
No matter how well-adjusted you become, living with HIV will always come with a sense of worry and anxiety. Every time you get sick or something doesn't feel right, your mind can go to places that are a little darker and more serious than before. Being open about your struggles and creating a support system to help you through your fears helps tremendously, but anxiety will always be something you manage alongside your disease.