HIV SUPPORT

After recieving a positive HIV test result it is natural to feel a turmoil of emotions. Pineapple Support HIV Support has been created to help you process these emotions with the help of a specialist therapist or counselor.

Pineapple Support is providing performers who require this support with 6 completely free, one-on-one therapy sessions with specialist therapists. After this time there is the option to continue on a pay what you can basis.

We have made the therapy request process as simple as possible.

Individuals living with HIV all take different approaches to dealing with life’s challenges when it comes to family, friends, and work. A person processing their HIV diagnosis may go through the 5 steps of grief. The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Starting a dialogue and striving towards self-acceptance is best done with the support of others with HIV who understand what you are going through. Understand everything you are feeling is “normal” and alright to feel.

#1 Denial
The shock of getting the diagnosis is a surreal experience. Suddenly all the times you have sympathized with someone looked at someone struggling with an affliction and thought that poor person is happening to you. You think it cannot be real, surely this is not happening, you go numb, shut down some people even push it to the back of their mind. The shock and denial help the body cope with the news, they help you to carry on and filter in as much as you can take. You feel somehow isolated as it is not happening to another person it is happening you!

#2 Anger
You will feel many a turmoil of emotions when you hit the anger stage. You will look for someone or something to put the blame on. You need an outlet to direct all the hurt, pain and anger on. There has to be a reason this is happening to you, so you will lash out a person, society and anything that relates to what is happening to you. Sometimes a person gets angry about silly little things that do not relate to what is happening to them at all. As long as you are open to others embrace your anger and ride that wave of the grief stage.

#3 Bargaining
The third stage of grief is often associated with guilt, what ifs and I would do anything to change things. This stage is the one where we wish we could back in time do things differently, we start questioning things around us and plead with anyone we can to get another outcome to our current situation.

#4 Depression
Suddenly we realize there is nothing we can do to change that outcome. This is happening to us and that last little vestige of hope we had started to flicker out. We realize this was not a dream and there is not getting out of what is happening to us. We are hit with a huge tidal wave of grief and all the pain, fear and anger turns into depression.

#5 Acceptance
You want to say you are ok, all right or fine but the fact is you are not and probably never will be again. This stage of the grief is when you start to realize you have two options to give up or fight as best as you can and do what you can to conquer this disease. There is always hope, that light at the end of the tunnel no matter how long the tunnel may be. With today’s technology and scientific breakthroughs, we are well on the road to finding that elusive cure.

One last thing about the stages of acceptance Kathrine Kuber-Ross did not intend for the stages to be linear. You will arrive at different stages at various times and find yourself experiencing them again, that is normal too. Grief is a wibbly wobbly tangled ball that works itself out as we grown in the experience of life.

Cultivating Hope
Some instances of acceptance were small, in the form of disclosure to only one person, or seeking medical treatment for their HIV infection. No matter the magnitude of the first glimpse of acceptance, it activated a series of positive changes in outlook or behaviors in the person’s life. The first experience of acceptance marked a glimmer of hope in what can first seem like the end of the world. Individuals find these small glimmers of hope and acceptance in various ways such as researching the disease and various treatments, finding a community of like minded people, routine to feel “normal”, and others find it in spiritual or religious practices.
Strategic disclosure was cited by many as the key to managing the day-to-day stress of HIV. Disclosure to the wrong person could lead to rejection, especially because of the HIV-related stigma. For most, the secrecy can take a toll on the mind as well as the body. An odd recovery saying, “you are only as sick as your secrets.”

Self-Acceptance
Finally, after accumulating positive experiences in accepting environments, reducing harmful behavior, and interacting with others living with HIV, individuals can reach a place of self-acceptance. Places of self-acceptance are not always marked by a radical shift in self-concept; rather, some individuals describe an improved ability to cope with the reality of the implications of dealing with HIV for the rest of their lives. For some, caring for their health marked self-acceptance. For others, an explicit proclamation of self-love is shared with others.

It is one of the hardest things to go through, but humans are resilient and tend to be able to dig deep into their reserves of sheer willpower. This alone goes a long way in the fight against the disease. There are many support groups, like Pineapple Support, to help you every step of the way and no matter what you think we all need help at some stage in our lives.

Reference
Albright, J., & Fair, C. D. (2018). “Now I Know I Love Me”: The Trajectory to Self-Acceptance Among HIV Positive Adults in a Southeastern U.S. Community Center. SAGE Open. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244018804963

It is extremely important to Pineapple Support that client-therapist relationships are bound by the highest ethical standards. If you have a question or concern regarding ethics or any experience at Pineapple Support, please contact us at contact@pineapplesupport.org

Disclosing your status can be daunting and extremely personal task, whether you’re newly diagnosed or have been so for some time. Remember, is it YOUR information to disclose and it can be difficult to do so no matter who you are sharing this information
Some key facts to remember – both for yourself and to who you are disclosing to.

– You are healthy. You are and will be doing everything you need to do in order to remain so. It is not a death sentence.
– It is not something to do apologetic or ask forgiveness for.
– Make sure that you disclose in your own time and are comfortable with who you are disclosing to.
– Don’t hide your status when it is important (medical professionals, lovers) but remember you don’t absolutely need to disclose to everyone in your life.
– Trust yourself. Make sure you are following what you want.
– Make sure you have someone to talk to you – both personally (have a friend who can talk to). Also consider reaching out to a professional to help gather your thoughts and talk to without any judgement.
– While it may sound weird, take a breath and relax. You are most definitely not alone.
– Lastly, know your resources. Reach out to professionals for help, advice, a source to talk to not only about this but anything.
– Mental health is as important, if not more, as physical health.

PrEP and PEP

If you or someone you know is interested in preventative treatment for HIV or has potentially been exposed to HIV, below is information related to PrEP and PEP.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

PrEP are antiviral medications used by HIV-negative individuals to prevent the transmission of HIV. It is taken before any potential exposure.

PrEP is highly effective – up to 99% at preventing HIV transmission if taken consistently as prescribed.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

PEP are antiretroviral medications used by HIV-negative individuals who have had a single exposure or potential exposure to HIV. If you had a high-risk sexual encounter or found out you were exposed to HIV, you can use PEP.

If the medication is used within 72 hours of exposure, it can prevent HIV infection. 

You can go to any hospital emergency room or urgent care to access PEP.

What else should I know?

PrEP and PEP are covered by most insurances including Medicaid. However, if you don’t have insurance, there are programs that can give you access to the treatment.

PrEP and PEP are preventative medications. PrEP and PEP will not help those who have been diagnosed with HIV.

It is important to note that if you are diagnosed with HIV, due to modern advances in treatment most folks diagnosed with HIV go onto living normal and healthy lives.

Where can I find access to PrEP and PEP?

The Los Angeles LGBT Center offers PEP and income-based treatment. To learn more, please call The LA LGBT Center at: 323-993-7500.

Ready, Set, PrEP provides nationwide access to PrEP for those facing economic barriers to accessing the medications. For more information visit: www.getyourprep.comPlanned Parenthood clinics offer access to PEP for those facing economic or insurance barriers to the medication. To find a clinic near you visit: www.plannedparenthood.org/get-care

Emergency rooms and hospitals are among the most frequent prescribers of PrEP and PEP. If you don’t have access to immediate care from other resources listed, visiting the hospital could provide you with access to treatments.

Questions about PrEP and PEP? Here are more informational resources:

https://prepfacts.org/prep/the-questions/
https://lalgbtcenter.org/post-exposure-prophylaxis
https://www.thesourcelgbt.org/hiv