Nine ways that God can use you to help your loved one in the challenge of living with HIV!
You just found out that someone you love has HIV. It may be your brother or your sister. It may be a close friend or a business colleague. It may be anyone – but you have found out and you are shocked.
What can I do now? What should I do? Isn’t AIDS an incurable disease? How could it happen to us? What will people think?
These and many other questions may be going through your mind at this point.
This little write-up is meant to help you make good choices. It does not have all the answers to every question. But since we have worked with many people who are living with HIV – and their family members who are helping them – this write-up does give some practical advice to some of the main questions that you will have.
Please feel free to ask further questions. You will find contact addresses on the side of this web page and at the end of this post.
So… My loved one has HIV/AIDS – now what?
1. Your loved one is afraid.
Remember – he or she is the one with the disease. The immediate relatives (if they know already) may be even more fearful.
You can make a difference by telling your loved one you still love them. Don’t accuse. Don’t judge. We have all made mistakes. Now is the time to accept with all your heart. Give courage – not more fear!
Having HIV is not the end! There is so much hope!
2. Get a confirmatory HIV report
One report – esp. from a private lab – is not enough to tell whether a person has HIV. Make sure your loved one gets a proper HIV anti-body test. We suggest having it done at any of the Government Integrated Counseling and Testing Centers (ICTCs) which are at each Municipal Hospitals.
Some ICTCs are also found with govt. recognized NGOs such as Jeevan Sahara Kendra and Salvation Army.
3. Start Treatment!
HIV is a disease which has lots of treatments available! But you must help your loved one get the right kind of HIV treatment. Don’t go to people who say “take this and I will cure you.”
If you are living in the greater Mumbai area the correct HIV Treatment is straight forward (if you are living in other parts of India the same general principles will hold true):
- Register at the nearest Government Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) Centre – investigations and medicines are free. The Greater Mumbai Area has ART centres at JJ Hospital, KEM Hospital, Nair Hospital, Godrej Hospital, L+T Health Centre Andheri, Thane Civil Hospital,Central Hospital Ulhasnagar, and NMMC Hospital Vashi,
- Have a free blood test done to check your loved one’s immunity. This is called an absolute CD4 Count – and should be done initially and then repeated every 6 months.
- Check for other diseases such as Tuberculosis. If your loved one has TB, then get free TB treatment from your nearest Govt. DOTS center.
- These treatments will really help your loved one. Tuberculosis treatment needs to be taken for 1 year and ART (Anti-retroviral treatment) is taken life-long. You can encourage your loved one to take the medicine and make sure they take every dose of the medicine!
- Your prayers and love and support help the medicines work! Keep encouraging your loved one to keep their treatments!
4. Encourage disclosure
HIV is too big a disease to be dealt with alone. Help your loved one share about their HIV status to close family members. Every person living with HIV needs a strong support system. This can only happen when we tell others about our condition.
It is not easy to tell others that you are HIV positive. Offer to be there with your loved one – if they want – when they share their HIV status to others. Work with the others to help them understand that they are not at risk themselves from daily contact and caring for a person with HIV.
5. Test other family members
If your loved one is married – it is important to test their spouse for HIV. If the mother is found to be infected with HIV – then it is good to test the children as well.
Testing other family members for HIV can be very hard – there may be many feelings of guilt and fear. But you can help your loved one overcome these feelings by your encouragement and prayers.
Your loved one may not want to test immediately, especially if they have just found out about their own HIV positivity. But do not wait too long. If the family members are HIV negative – then that can be a huge burden lifted off your loved one’s shoulders. If any are HIV positive – then we can start their own treatment sooner rather than waiting for the disease to do damage to them!
6. Support financially.
Nothing is free. Nothing is cheap. Your loved one will need some kind of financial help. You may not be able to help in every area, but every little bit is useful. Gently find out what your loved one’s needs are – and what their family’s needs are. Once you have found out – act! Don’t wait to help them out. God loves a cheerful giver!
Listen to your loved one’s fears and worries and help them to overcome them. Don’t give up – and don’t let your loved one give up! Keep communicating. Send SMSs. Call up. Visit. Spend time. Listen more than you talk. Allow your loved ones to express themselves. If they need to cry – let them. Give them a safe space in which they can share their deepest sorrows.
8. Keep confidentiality
Let your loved one know that you are not going to share what they tell you with anyone. Keep to your word. While you want your loved one to tell others about their HIV status – that is their job – not yours! You must be totally trustworthy in keeping your loved one’s confidence.
9. Encourage your loved one to trust and depend on the Living God.
Living with HIV is not easy at all. There are so many challenges. Every day. None of us have enough time and energy to be the solution to the problems of others – especially those with HIV.
Here is where you can help your loved one to move forward and live positively – help them to trust and depend on the Living God. We know that Jesus Christ cares for each one of us – especially those who are living with HIV/AIDS.
Help your loved one with HIV trust more in God Himself. Encourage them to read God’s word the Bible and to pray. Take your loved one with you to a prayer group or Sunday service if they do not do so already.
Having HIV is not the end – it is only the beginning of a new and often challenging phase of their life.
Thanks for being willing and ready to help your loved one with HIV. We hope that this small write-up has helped you with some of the basic steps can be used by God to bless our loved ones who are living with this challenging condition.
For further information, you can contact Jeevan Sahara Kendra at 9321112065 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org