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HIV Diagnosis

An HIV diagnosis can come as a surprise even if you suspected it was possible. Strong emotions are normal, as are questions about HIV basics and whether you are the only woman adjusting to life after diagnosis (you’re not). We can help you get information and get connected with other women living with HIV if you’d like, and when you’re ready. Becoming a member of Positive Women’s Network means you qualify for all our services free of charge.

How you may feel:

An HIV diagnosis can make you feel scared, angry, confused or depressed. All of these emotions are normal given the situation. Accepting an HIV diagnosis can take time and energy. You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t have to do it alone – Positive Women’s Network staff and members can help you through the cycles of dealing with diagnosis.

What does it mean to have HIV?

You may wonder how HIV will affect your life immediately, and over the years to come. Yes, there will be years. You can live a long life with HIV.

HIV affects all kinds of people in all areas in the world. When HIV and AIDS first came to the attention of people in North America, it was seen as a “gay men’s” disease. We know now that it can affect and infect anyone if they are in a high-risk situation for transmission. Knowing the basics about HIV, treatment choices, and communicating with your doctor are important for your health.

Are you alone with HIV? Absolutely not.

There are thousands of women with HIV in Canada and millions in the world. It may seem you are the only one when you first are diagnosed, but you really aren’t. There are women out there, and many of them are dealing with similar issues – sexual health, relationships, disclosure, change.

You wonder how you will tell anyone, what the responses will be. But connecting with other women who have been through similar experiences can help.

How to connect with support and other women living with HIV

Positive Women’s Network offers a number of support programs for individuals and groups. Support workers offer one-to-one help for women going through post-diagnosis and life changes that can result from HIV. Group activities help introduce women to each other in welcoming and non-intimidating ways.

A drop-in lounge, lunch program and weekend retreats offer chances for women to meet and learn about HIV. For women who live in smaller communities and don’t have much of a chance (if any) to connect with other people living with HIV, weekend retreats can be a much needed getaway. We always reserve spaces for women who have never attended a retreat and for women from out of town.

An HIV diagnosis changes your life. But you don’t have to go through it alone.


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