Living with HIV

What is it?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and disease.

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus.

While AIDS can’t be transmitted from one person to another, the HIV virus can.

There’s currently no cure for HIV, but there are very effective drug treatments that enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life.

What to Do When Diagnosed

Being diagnosed with HIV can be scary, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to deal with it alone. There is a variety of options for both medical and emotional support available to get you through this difficult time.

The Sexual Health Centre hosts regular support groups and meetings and offers free 1:1 consultations with an accredited counsellor, that are available for you, your partner, or your family. Contact our Senior Health Promotion Officer Phil to learn more about it.

Should You Tell Anyone?

It is completely up to you. Some people openly share their diagnosis with family and friends while others prefer to tell just one or two people they trust.

However, it is important that you tell your current, previous and future sexual partners about your status, so they can get tested and treated in necessary as well.

Your GP or counsellor can advise you on who should be contacted and the best way to approach it. They’ll also tell you how you can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to someone else in the future.

When it comes to your employer, you have no legal obligation to disclose your status, unless you have a frontline job in the armed forces or work in a healthcare role where you perform invasive procedures. However, telling them might make it easier to make any necessary adjustments to your workload or for you to have time off.

Important Things to Know

  • Starting antiretroviral treatment as soon as possible, and sustaining it as part of your everyday routine, is the best way of ensuring that your immune system stays strong.
  • Alongside your treatment, there are lots of things you can do to keep yourself healthy and happy and improve your overall wellbeing, like regular exercising, eating healthy, getting enough rest and quality sleep.
  • There are some restrictions when it comes to living with HIV, like the inability to donate blood or organs, or travel to certain countries.

It is important to remember that if you have HIV, are on effective treatment, and your viral load is undetectable you won’t pass along HIV to a sexual partner.

The Sexual Health Centre aims to raise public awareness for the U=U (Undetectable=Untransmittable) campaign which highlights this fact.

PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis)

Pharmacies currently stocking PrEP in Ireland

Click on the map below to find your nearest pharmacy that is stocking PrEP. (This map and information is supplied by Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland).