7 Ways to Help Your Loved Ones Navigate HIV


HIV


Most of us have heard the old African Proverb, generally attributed to families raising their young children, “It takes a village to raise a child.” We’ve said it as a random cliche, held others accountable by it, and honestly, in some cases, used it as an anthem to invite others into our trusted circle to help build strong communities of support. Now, what happens to that village once the child ages? Over time, some villagers grow together, and other times, they grow apart. It’s important to know that the community is always there, even when people cycle out. We should also note that, because people are in our lives for different seasons, it’s natural for people to come in and out of our lives over time. Older relationships hold history and tradition, while new people bring fresh ideas and perspectives and can support people in their already evolved momentum in life. Regardless of place, know your role in the village and act accordingly. HIV


When diagnosed with HIV, a person could feel myriad emotions ranging from rage, confusion, fear, sadness, depression, or even anxiety. The question is, how do they sift through those emotions? How do they get into a healthy place? The journey is different for each person, but here’s where the village comes in. The villagers – the people who are included in the “circle of trust” can help by implementing these seven steps to helping your loved one navigate the process. 


RELATED: 4 Tips to Avoid Infection as an HIV Caregiver


Hold the judgment, instead, become a listening ear


It’s nothing like someone getting the devastating news that they are HIV positive. Instead of concluding that your friend/loved one needs advice about their situation, listen to what they have to say. Let them cry, scream, sit in silence – whatever their chosen release form is, be there for them.


This isn’t a time to badger them on how they contracted the virus or ask if they used protection (because it’s clear – HIV can spread in several ways – oral sex, broken condom, rape, etc.). This time, more than ever, is time for you to show up and be the shoulder that consoles.


Your consistency and willingness to answer the phone or sit in silence weigh more than the human heart can imagine. 


Encourage the continual use of medication


Antiretroviral therapy (ART)– is the practice of taking medication to combat the adverse side effects of HIV. ART helps those impacted by the virus to live a better life. Some people deny their status, and others feel they can stay on top of it through a healthier lifestyle. Though diet supports the immune system, those around you must take their medication to sustain them physically, mentally, and emotionally. 


Workout with them


Physical activities can do wonders for the body and mind. Regular exercise helps manage weight and stress and boosts good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) while actively decreasing unhealthy triglycerides.


Working out also induces blood flow throughout the body, lowering heart disease chances.


Frequently exercising improves mood, boosts energy, promotes healthier sleeping habits, and is fun with friends. Exercising builds