I was diagnosed with HIV two weeks ago and I don't really know what to do. After I got my results the nurse gave me leaflets about HIV-undetectable and peer-support groups in London but I don't think I'm ready to talk with people face to face.
Right now I feel dirty and ashamed. I feel I've let the team down and I'm a bad gay. I'm feeling down right now and I just want to get drunk and forget this has happened.
Thanks so much for your message and reaching out to us. I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. People tend not to talk as much about the impact of a new diagnosis on your mental health, but it's probably the most important impact now that treatment for the virus is so good.
I'm not living with HIV but I've got a lot of friends that are. I think most of them felt like you at first (unwarranted shame and guilt), but given some time and support they're much happier now. You're absolutely not a 'bad gay' for living with HIV, and you've let no-one down, it doesn't matter how it was transmitted or where. Gay men (I will assume for time-being that you identify as male based on your forum handle) are at higher risk of transmitting the virus and that's not anyone's fault. Rather, you just happen in a high risk group. I know these words probably aren't that comforting and you're going to need to time to process what's happened, but we're here to tell you that you're not to blame, and there are lots of places you can get help.
Below I'm going to link to some resources / organisations that I think can help based what you've said above. Hopefully one of them will be a good fit.
- If you want to talk but aren't ready to go to a group, try calling THT Direct. It's totally okay to process this in your own way, and maybe this would work out better for you right now? THT direct is THT's support line and I'm sure someone would be glad to talk to you. Call them on 0808 802 1221, 10am - 8pm, Mon-Fri. You could also try calling Switchboard, which is an LGBTQ+ helpline on 0300 330 0630, 10am - 10pm.
- Don't want to call either? No worries! You can also contact Switchboard by web chat or email. Details here: switchboard.lgbt/
There's plenty more where all this came from as there's a lot of support out there in London for men living with HIV. Above all, make sure that you're talking to people about how you're feeling. Of course, it's totally up to you when, or if you disclose your status to anyone else, but try and let someone know if you're struggling mentally.
If you've got any questions then please post again and we'll see if we can help. Take care of yourself.
Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. It's been nearly a month since I came here. Thank you Justin for your advice. I called THT Direct and they put me in contact with some peer-support services. I'm trying to take things slowly but I feel much better than I did a month ago. I've started my medication and on my way to being undetectable. Right now that's all I want to do and once I become undetectable then I will look at what happens next.
This is fantastic news I'm so glad that THT Direct were able to help. It's a great charity.
Take things at your own pace, I think it's really wise of you to do things when you feel ready for them. If you've ever got any questions about a next-step, then don't hesitate to post here and we'll get back to you.