HIV Negative – What Now?

Man contemplating next steps in health journey after an HIV negative diagnosis, with Engage Men's Health branding

Finding out you’re HIV negative can bring a wave of relief. This moment, though filled with ease, also provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on your health and the steps you can take to maintain or even enhance it. Let’s talk about how to use this knowledge to live your healthiest, most fulfilling life. 

  1. First, Embrace This Moment of Relief Be grateful and reflect: Just like we breathe deeply in moments of stress, take a moment now to breathe in relief and gratitude. It’s a good day. But don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either. This is a good opportunity to reflect on any incidents where you might have put yourself at risk. Ask yourself why you made those decisions and how you would deal with that situation in the future if it happens again.
  2. Ongoing Vigilance: The Importance of Regular Health Screenings Additionally, consistent testing is important because just because you’ve tested negative doesn’t mean testing should stop. Regular screenings for HIV and other STIs should be a key part of your health routine. Setting reminders every 3-6 months can keep your status up-to-date and give you peace of mind. Remember that not all STIs show symptoms and having an untreated STI increases the risk of getting HIV.
  3. PrEP: A Proactive Measure for HIV Prevention Furthermore, if you’re at risk for HIV, consider talking to your healthcare provider about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). PrEP is over 99.9% effective at preventing HIV when taken consistently and could be a valuable part of your health strategy.
  4. Risk Awareness: Identifying Behaviors and High-Risk Scenarios Men at high risk of HIV may encounter situations like unprotected intercourse or relationships with partners who are not on ART treatment. Inconsistent condom use, high number of sexual partners, and presence of other STIs also increase risk. Recreational drug use, high alcohol consumption, and lack of information about HIV prevention further compound the risk.
  5. Safer Sex Education: Strategies for Prevention Similarly, understanding and practicing safer sex is crucial. Using condoms correctly every time you have sex can significantly reduce the risk of HIV and other STIs. Taking PrEP daily also effectively protects you from HIV, though it does not protect against other STIs.
  6. Maintain a Proactive Approach to Health Moreover, maintaining a proactive approach to health means staying informed. Sexual health is a rapidly evolving field. Stay updated with the latest information and advancements—knowledge is a powerful tool for health.
  7. Build Strong Relationships In the same vein, building strong relationships involves open and honest communication about your sexual health status, sexual history, and testing habits. This builds trust and safety in relationships and encourages your partners to also be regular with their health screenings.
  8. Be a Sexual Health Advocate Likewise, becoming a sexual health advocate means using your knowledge to educate others. Whether it’s chatting with friends or participating in community outreach, sharing accurate information about HIV prevention is crucial.

Ultimately, finding out you’re HIV negative isn’t just an end to a worry—it’s an ongoing commitment to yourself and your community to live responsibly and healthily. Embrace this opportunity to reinforce healthy habits and ensure a vibrant, healthy future. Remember, every day is a chance to act with love and respect towards your body and those around you.

At EMH, our services cater to men who have sex with men, irrespective of identity or HIV status. No judgment, no shame, and it’s FREE! EMH services include: 

  • HIV testing and ARV treatment
  • Testing and treatment for other STIs
  • PrEP
  • PEP
  • HIV self-testing kits

For more information or to book an appointment, WhatsApp 082 607 1686.