My HIV test is positive, now what?

Finding out you have HIV may be a shock. You are not alone. There is help. With treatment, care and support, you can live long and well with HIV. Here’s what else you need to know.

HIV can be treated. With treatment and support, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. HIV treatment is usually very simple with few side effects. HIV treatment can prevent HIV from passing to others. This is done by lowering the amount of virus in your body to an undetectable level. When a person’s virus becomes undetectable (measured by a blood test), they:

  • Cannot pass HIV to their sex partners
  • Have a lower chance of passing HIV when sharing drug equipment for injecting drugs
  • Will not pass HIV to a baby during pregnancy or delivery

U = U: Undetectable = Untransmittable

It is important to get care and treatment as soon as you can.

Make sure you are referred to the Manitoba HIV Program. The person who gave you your test result will refer you to the Manitoba HIV Program so that you can start your HIV care. If you had a reactive test result from a point of care or HIV self-test, you should see a healthcare provider for confirmatory lab testing. You can also refer yourself to the Manitoba HIV Program. Call 1-866-449-0165.

You can keep yourself and others safe. HIV can be passed to others during sex, by sharing equipment to use drugs, or during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. But there are things you can do to help stop passing HIV on to others. These include:

  • Practice safer sex if you do have sex
  • Use new equipment every time if you inject drugs or choose different ways of using drugs
  • Take your HIV medication regularly  
  • Feed your baby formula with support from the Manitoba HIV Program Infant Formula Program
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for your HIV-negative sex partner(s)

A public health nurse may contact you. The nurse will provide you with information about HIV. They will also talk to you about people you may have had contact with and the importance of them being tested for HIV. You do not need to provide your name to people you have had contact with.

You don’t have to tell everyone you have HIV, but you do have a legal duty to tell your sex partner(s) you have HIV before some kinds of sex. Find out more at HIV Legal Network:

Getting support is important. Connect with your healthcare team to find out about supports, groups, counselling and other resources in your area.

For more information, contact:

The Manitoba HIV Program: or 1-866-449-0165

CATIE: or 1-800-263-1638

Street Connections:

Sexuality Education Resource Centre Manitoba (SERC):

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network:

Manitoba Harm Reduction Network:

Sex Friendly Manitoba:

Workplace Disclosure Decision Guide:

Financial support for people living with HIV with the PH/A Fund Guidelines:

This content was originally published by CATIE, Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information: