Assurance must be given that HIV is a manageable disease.

Educating oneself about HIV: what it is, how it is transmitted, how it is treated, and how people can stay healthy while living with HIV, is necessary for the infected person and the family to know. Having a solid understanding of HIV is essential in supporting one’s loved one and allaying one’s own fears. The internet is a good place to familiarise oneself about HIV.  Speaking to a counsellor at a clinic and joining support groups for partners and their families is both helpful and readily available.

Starting on antiretroviral treatment as early as possible is very important, as well as adhering to taking the medication as required. While the person’s support system needs to be the voice of reason, how it is conveyed is of great importance.

The best support for anybody, is to let them know that one is there for them. They need to be assured that people with HIV can keep the virus under control and prevent their HIV infection from progressing to AIDS. ARV treatment is vital for all infected people and should be started as soon as possible after diagnosis.

The sexual partner should get tested to know their HIV status.

While one would not wish to insult or offend one’s loved one, it is sensible to put the following in place:

Remember, one doesn’t acquire HIV from the air, food, water, insects, animals, dishes, knives, forks, spoons, toilet seats, or anything else that doesn’t involve blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk. HIV does not come from faeces, nasal fluid, saliva, sweat, tears, urine or vomit, unless these have blood mixed in them. One can help people with HIV eat, dress and bath without becoming infected.

Should ones loved one fall ill, the person taking care of them should wear gloves if encountering blood or other body fluids that could contain visible blood, such as urine, faeces, or vomit. Cuts, sores, or breaks on both the care giver’s and patient’s exposed skin should be covered with bandages. People living with HIV can get very sick from common germs and infections due to a compromised immunity.

Hugging, holding hands and giving massages are safe and very much needed by the infected person. Washing of hands after going to the bathroom and before preparation of food must become standard practice. It is prudent to wash one’s hands when having contact with the infected person.