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I’m HIV+, Now What?
Here are 5 Steps to Stay Healthy While Living With HIV
1. Find a Case Manager
A case manager is someone who will connect you to healthcare, coordinate treatment, and be your advocate. They will evaluate your needs, those of your family and support system, and help connect you to services and medication so you can stay healthy and lead a full life. They will help you control healthcare costs. They are non-judgmental and can help you reduce the consequences of risky sex or drug use.
There are seven Ryan White Case Management sites in the state who work with Community Based and AIDS Service Organizations to serve many areas of Montana. Find a case manager at GetTested.MT.gov and click on the “HIV Case Management Sites” button or contact the Montana STD/HIV Program at 406 444-3565.
2. Connect to Services
Montana has much to offer persons who are HIV+. We want you to stay healthy. Talk to your case manager who will help you connect to services like these:
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides HIV-related services in the United States for those who do not have enough health care coverage or financial resources for coping with HIV disease. The program fills gaps in care not met by other payers. For more info: Ryan White Target Center for Technical Assistance
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) provides HIV and other medications for people living with HIV at no cost to them. ADAP can also help people with HIV pay for health insurance premiums and copayments, deductibles or coinsurance. To see if you're eligible, please refer to the list of Medical Case Management Sites and contact the Ryan White Case Manager nearest you. Find an ADAP Application here. For more information or general questions, call the STD/HIV program at 406 444-3565. For a complete list of medications covered by ADAP, see the Montana ADAP Formulary. For a complete list of ADAP pharmacies, see the Montana ADAP Pharmacy List.
Please note: If you are eligible for Medicaid, Medicare, IHS, or Veteran's Health benefits, you are not eligible to receive ADAP funded health insurance premium payment assistance.
To help take care of the housing needs of low-income people who are living with HIV/AIDS and their families, The Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program helps with housing for low-income people who are living with HIV and their families. See your case manager to connect with services and find our more at Housing and Health.
Early Intervention Services (EIS) provides free HIV testing, outreach, education and referral services outside of the the traditional health care settings. If you are HIV negative, EIS will help you stay that way. If you are HIV positive, EIS will connect you to the services that will help you stay healthy. To contact someone in your local area about EIS, or to find services in your area, see this Early Intervention Social Services Resource Directory
3. Talk With Your Partners
Tips for men who have sex with men (MSM).
It is important to have conversations with your partner about safer sex and healthy relationships, but that can be a lot easier said than done. Worried about how your new or existing guy is going to react? You’re not alone, many men have those fears. Check out advice from other men at Conversation Starters.
Information for women, men and trans
This site allows you to find information for YOU and help you lower the risk of transmitting HIV to your partner(s) through sex or injection drug use.
We’ll take care of it.
If you are diagnosed with HIV and other STDs, your county health department will contact you to ask how to reach your sexual partners, to help them get . Without using your name, experienced staff will offer testing and treatment. Your name and medical information is private and confidential, at all times and will never be shared with your partners.
4. Practice Safer Sex
- Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. (link https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/)
- Reduce your number of sexual partners
- Talk to your partner(s) about Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). A daily medicine for people who could contract HIV through a HIV+ partner.
- If you recently had unprotected sex with someone, they can lower their risk of contracting HIV infection by taking Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). Act quickly, because it must be taken within 72 hours after a possible exposure.
- Stay on treatment. If taken as prescribed, HIV medicine (ART) can lower the amount of HIV in the blood, (viral load), to where it cannot be detected. People with HIV with an undetectable viral load can stay healthy for many years and have virtually no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
5. Practice Safer Injection Drug Use
The best way to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV through injection drug use is to stop injecting drugs. If you continue injecting drugs, never share needles or works. Visit GetTested.mt.gov to find locations where you can get new syringes and dispose of used. Some pharmacies will allow you to buy new syringes.
Other things you can do to lower your risk of transmitting HIV, if you continue to inject drugs, include:
- Cleaning used needles with bleach. This may reduce the risk of HIV but doesn't eliminate it.
- Using sterile water to fix drugs.
- Cleaning your skin with a new alcohol swab before you inject.
- Being careful not to get your blood on someone else's hands, needle or works.
- Disposing of needles safely after one use. Use a sharps container, a hard sided plastic container, and keep used needles away from other people.
- Suggest your partners get tested for HIV at least once a year.
- Take your anti-viral therapy as directed to keep your viral load low. This will help keep you healthy, and lower the risk of passing on HIV infection to others.
- Using a condom the right way every time you have anal or vaginal sex. Learn the right way to use a male condom.
IDU and HIV 101:
CDC HIV and Injection Drugs 101 fact sheet
Hepatitis C and IDU:
CDC Hepatitis C & Injection Drug Use fact sheet
Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health:
CDC Gay and Bisexual Men's Health
CDC PrEP 101 fact sheet
Substance Abuse Treatment locater:
Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has information on other topics. This link will help you better understand care, protect others, deal with discrimination, stay healthy, travel and make family planning decisions.
HIV.gov has information on living well with HIV, follow the links to Living Well to find information on aging with HIV, employment and health, exercise, diet and travel outside the U.S.
Positive Spin is series of real stories from real people about their unique experiences along the HIV Continuum of Care.