These resources will help you plan your next step
By Enid Vázquez @ENIDVAZQUEZPA

Annual PA HIV Drug Guide

Includes a pull-out drug chart and a separate page for each drug with opinions from a doctor and an activist, including medications not yet on the market but expected to be approved within a year. Includes other charts and articles, such as co-pay assistance programs and the latest on treatment goals and news. Go to positivelyaware.com.

Ask the Expert

Send your questions to TheBody.com, a website full of news, blogs, and experts to answer your concerns. HIV specialist Joel Gallant, MD, MPH, also answers questions at hivforum.tumblr.com.

Basics

How does HIV affect your body? This manual may seem a little outdated and a little bit long, but will take you step-by-step—in short bites using simple and brief language and graphics—through pretty much everything you may want to know. Because only the British are cool like that. i-base.info/english-treatment-training-manual.

Factsheets

You can find easy to read yet comprehensive factsheets at aidsinfonet.org. Factsheets are updated frequently to reflect advances in HIV treatment.

Government info

Snazzy and full of color, readable and easy to use, and so easy to remember: AIDS.gov. But there’s much more from U.S. government agencies.

Like AIDS.gov, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has an HIV Basics webpage in addition to a wealth of other HIV/AIDS information. Go to cdc.gov/hiv/basics.

From HIV symptoms and getting into care to living well and finding a social service provider, the CDC’s Act Against AIDS campaign aims to inspire and assist people living with HIV to live healthy lives. Go to cdc.gov/actagainstaids/campaigns/hivtreatmentworks/index.html, or call 800-AID-AIDS (800-243-2437).

U.S. HIV treatment guidelines are regularly updated and produced by a panel of experts through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Pediatric, perinatal, and opportunistic infection guidelines also provided. Go to aidsinfo.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health provides information in English and Spanish. Toll-free hotline: 800-HIV-0440 (800-448-0440). E-mail your questions to ContactUs@aidsinfo.nih.gov, or write to AIDSinfo, P.O. Box 4780, Rockville, Maryland 20849-6303.

Support groups and assistance

Find a support group and learn of other resources near you. Go to aids.org/topics/aids-factsheets/aids-hotlines for a list of hotline numbers for each state. Most hotlines operate 24/7. Also go to the CDC National Prevention Information Network’s site npin.cdc.gov/search/organization/testing for a list of organizations across the country that provide HIV services.

HIV Health InfoLine

A community-based information and support hotline from San Francisco’s Project Inform. Operates Monday–Friday, 1 p.m.–7 p.m. (Eastern Time). Call 800-822-7422. Also operates the HELP-4-HEP (hepatitis C) hotline, 877-HELP-4-HEP (877-435-7443).

Take care of yourself

HIV is not just a chronic medical condition, like diabetes, but one that comes with a lot of social stigma. As such, it’s even more imperative to take care of your emotional and mental well-being in addition to accessing medical care.

Find a support group! It helps to talk with someone who knows first-hand what you’re going through. See resources on this page.

If you smoke, stop.

Yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, and deep breathing techniques can help alleviate stress. (Just taking a couple of deep breaths can instantly calm you.) Alternative and complementary therapies have helped many people living with HIV.

Say no to shame and guilt. Talk with someone you trust; find a therapist you like; write in a journal.

Find a creative activity that engages you, even if it’s just a crossword puzzle.

Adopt a pet. “I’ll tell folks, ‘Oh, my God, your T-cells went up really high,’ ” nurse Keren Hahn told PA previously, “and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I got a new dog!’ ” Cats are good too. Having someone else to take care of can make you feel better.

You knew this was coming: use exercise and good nutrition. Find something you like! Start with baby steps if you need to. When AIDS devastated his body decades ago, HIV-positive exercise and supplement guru Nelson Vergel started working out with cans of food, and look at him now; go to powerusa.org.