I'm HIV+, what services are available to me
The Starling Clinic is a Somerset based HIV services offering free and confidential HIV care, treatment and support to all people diagnosed with HIV. It is run at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, TA1 5DA and located in the old building. Telephone: 01823 342619 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org If you are HIV positive and new to the area, or you wish to transfer your HIV care here, please contact The Starling Clinic by telephone, email or in person. Click here to access the clinics webpage.
The Eddystone Trust is an independent organisation that works with the Starling Clinic and the SWISH Service in Somerset. They have a range of services available for HIV+ people, their partners, carers and children, these include:
- 1 to 1 support with a Community Worker on a range of topics that are affecting you, such as: your health and wellbeing; financial; housing; relationships; and many more. Ask for us at your next clinic appointment or contact us direct.
- Guidance and practical support on how to access clinical services.
- Help in accessing other services in your area.
- Peer support is also available in Street and Taunton. These are regular groups of people living with HIV, from have a cuppa and a chat about similar fears and obstacles in life to guest speakers talking about medication adherence or financial planning. These groups can be really helpful on a both a practical and therapeutic level.
- A range of complementary therapy services are also available, please contact us for more information.
Living with HIV
Living with HIV can affect your self-confidence, cause depression and anxiety, support is there for you, contact The Eddystone Trust or talk with any of the team at the HIV clinic.
It’s all about living healthily:
- Look after your own wellbeing, it’s perfectly normal to experience anxiety when managing a long-term condition like HIV.
- Eating well and having a good diet, good nutrition helps your body to function normally and for your immune system to stay strong. Some ARV’s can cause problems with certain food types, know your facts.
- Alcohol is found to be more harmful if you are HIV+, if you do drink alcohol it’s best to spread it out over the week and stay within the UK’s new guidelines for safe drinking limits of 14 units per week.
- Smoking cigarettes or tobacco contains so many chemicals, which cause cancer and in recent study your risk of death is doubled for those with HIV. The survey can be viewed here. For more information stopping smoking, talk to the HIV team at the hospital or Eddystone or you can find out more at smoke free.
- Recreational drug use – people have their own reasons for taking these types of drugs, taking these in addition to your HIV medication carries more risks, if you need more information or support, talk to any of the team at the HIV clinic, The Eddystone Trust or visit this website.
- Take regular exercise and keep fit, this can combat fatigue.
Treatment & its effects
HIV treatment doesn’t cure HIV, it will reduce the amount of the virus in your body to very low levels, but as with most drugs there can be side effects. Some can be normal but others could be allergies to the drugs, so talk about how you are feeling while taking the medication to any of the team at the HIV clinic or someone at The Eddystone Trust. There are options that you have in either managing these side effects or possibly changing medication, there are over 20 different types available.
Talk to your HIV Doctor or HIV Pharmacist at the hospital about tips on how and when to take your medication as this can help you in staying on the medication. If you don’t take them correctly, you risk developing resistance to them. Likewise taking them with other prescription drugs can reduce their effectiveness, your GP may not be aware of your status, so please discuss with your HIV Doctor or HIV Pharmacist. Same applies for recreational drugs, talk about it, no one is here to judge.
Safer Sex for HIV+ people like me
Understanding the benefits of condoms can help make sex safer for HIV+ people and their partner(s). More information on using them can be found here. Condoms by post are available, click here to register.
There are also less risky sexual activities, which can be great fun, some are described here. If you are in a relationship where both of you are HIV+ or just one of you is, there are great tips for you to reduce the risks here.
Transmission & Criminalisation issues
You also need to know about the law on HIV transmission. Criminal law is being used in a number of countries in cases where HIV has been passed on from one person to another, or sometimes just when there is an apparent risk that this might have happened (exposure). The transmission could be either ‘intentional’ (a deliberate act) or ‘reckless’ (not enough care was taken), generally means that disclosure didn’t happen between the individuals and not enough care was taken to avoid the risk.
If you have a complaint made against you, it is so important that you get expert legal advice as soon as you can. Contact The Eddystone Trust for more information.
How do I tell people about my status?
Why do you want to tell people? How will they react? What are your options if it isn’t received well? Who are they going to tell? How are you going to do it?
These are the questions you need to be working through and it is so important to really think about all of these.
There is no correct way to tell people about your HIV status and it may be different dependant on the relationship you have with the person you’re going to tell. However talking it through confidentially with a worker from The Eddystone Trust or maybe another HIV+ person who has been through the process before, is something that you should consider.
A booklet titled ‘Deciding whether to tell people that you have HIV’ is available on www.aidsmap.co.uk. Also see The Eddystone Trust’s website for more information on disclosure.
Positive people's stories
The Eddystone Trust has started a new project of developing HIV Positive media across the West country and has a few uncensored, unrestricted and straight from the heart interviews, poems and stories from those living with HIV. If you would like to contribute to this page, please contact The Eddystone Trust.