An HIV or hepatitis C diagnosis can come as a shock, even if you suspected it was possible. You may feel scared, angry, confused, depressed, or alone. All of these emotions are normal. Accepting the diagnosis can take time and energy. But remembering a few things can help.

You can live a long life

The availability of effective HIV medications means that you can live a long time and plan for the future. In British Columbia, you can access antiretroviral medications for free. By using condoms and going on treatment, you can still enjoy sex while preventing the transmission of HIV to partners. You can also make plans to have a family. With good health care, a person with HIV can safely become pregnant and give birth without transmitting HIV to their partner or baby.

Treatment for hepatitis C has advanced considerably over the the past few years. New antiviral medications can cure the virus and prevent further damage to the liver. Compared to older treatments, these new medications are highly effective, produce milder side effects, and require a shorter time frame. However, they are very expensive. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist about whether what treatments are covered where you live.

You’re not the only one

HIV and hepatitis C affect people of all backgrounds and from all walks of life. Thousands of women live with one or both viruses in Canada, along with millions more around the world. While there is diversity among these women, they often deal with similar issues, and learning from one another is one of the best forms of support. Connecting with them can help you navigate life after diagnosis.

You can get support

Positive Women’s Network helps women going through life changes that can result from HIV or hepatitis C. You can access one-to-one support, or meet other women in a welcoming environment. Our drop-in lounge, weekly lunch, and weekend retreats offer chances for women to meet and learn from one another.

An HIV or hepatitis C diagnosis changes your life. When you’re ready, we can help you get information and support in dealing with your diagnosis, as well as connect you with other women.