I’m Scared I Have HIV Symptoms – What Is HIV Anxiety?
Last updated date : December 12, 2022
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One day you are surfing the internet and come across an article on HIV and AIDS. And as you start reading deeper into the topic, you feel like you have HIV yourself. You start thinking – ‘I’m Scared I have HIV Symptoms’. The fear you feel is so strong that it starts to hamper everyday life. This fear is a core symptom of HIV anxiety.
HIV and AIDS are two words that can cause extreme fear in everyone’s mind. And while these fears are understandable, what happens when it takes over your life?
What Is HIV Anxiety?
In simple words, when people fear they have an HIV infection or they may get it in the future, it leads to a lot of anxiety. HIV anxiety is a combination of fears and worries without any cause or evidence. One way people try to reduce their fear of HIV is by doing a test. However, even after the results come negative, they are still of HIV symptoms. When anxiety takes over their life, it is very difficult to reason with them.
Why Do People Get Scared of HIV Symptoms?
HIV has a lot of stigmas attached to it. When an individual contracts the infection, people judge them. Some people also have the fear of dying. To ease the worry, a person will do hours of research about the topic. They also try to find proof to support why they have HIV. This research is useless and people try fake online remedies to sort their problems.
Some people worry about contracting HIV when they engage with multiple sexual partners. While this worry is understandable, should it consume your life? If you test yourself, and it comes negative, would you still worry? If the answer is yes, then this is a clear sign of HIV anxiety.
How Does HIV Anxiety Affect People?
Let us take the help of an example to understand why people are scared of HIV symptoms. We can compare HIV anxiety to other fears like height or closed space. First and foremost, people get occupied with finding an answer to their symptoms. Secondly, there is a strong fear of dying. Thirdly, the fear of judgment stops people from sharing their concerns with friends or family members. Moreover, they avoid meeting people because they may have to tell them “how” they got the infection. The more they avoid meeting people, the lonelier they feel. Eventually, this loneliness leads to depression and sadness.
Along with this, there is a lot of guilt for doing something wrong. Feelings of guilt are also accompanied by the shame of having sex. This guilt and shame could be due to their upbringing and childhood experiences. As a result of being scared of HIV symptoms, people start doubting themselves and all their past decisions. If people are religious, this guilt and shame are very strong. People try to find all possible information online. They may even contact their sexual partners to trace the source of their HIV infection. People go around in circles without getting any answers. It would be easier to just test yourself, find an answer, and get a solution.
What to Do When I Am Scared of HIV Symptoms?
While the concern of getting an HIV infection is common, it can be unhealthy if it hampers your life. This is true when there is evidence to say nothing is wrong. There is a fine line between concern and worry. We need to draw the line at proof. Why should you be scared of the HIV symptoms when there is no proof? From the reasons mentioned above, it is clear that this fear is in the mind. Therefore, you need to work on the thoughts that are producing this fear. Remember, merely thinking about HIV doesn’t give you HIV symptoms.
Go See a Doctor
If you feel scared of contracting HIV symptoms, visit a doctor. The first step is to rule out the possibility of having the infection. If the test result comes positive, do not worry. The doctor will help you with various medications and lifestyle tips for dealing with HIV anxiety. However, if the test comes negative, you may need to meet another expert such as a psychiatrist. If the thoughts trouble you and you feel they are uncontrollable, the doctor can prescribe medicines to deal with the constant negative thoughts.
Meet a Psychologist
Sometimes the anxiety is much deeper than just HIV symptoms. people may be dealing with childhood traumas that lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and fear. Hence, you should focus on these issues and not on HIV anxiety alone. When you get better insight into your anxiety, you will be able to deal with similar situations in a healthy manner.
Join a Support Group
Like you, there are may be other people who are also scared of HIV symptoms and contracting the infection. You can join a group of people going through the same situation as yourself. Such groups provide social support when people feel lonely. When you join such groups, you get an opportunity to express how you feel. You also feel that there are people who understand you. Working on your feelings in a group can also help you understand what other people go through. Additionally, it gives you a deeper understanding of yourself and the way you think.
When we feel lonely, the one aspect of our life that we can fall back on is our family and friends. As difficult as it may be, speak to people who are close to you. We cannot underestimate the support we receive from people close to us. It can give you immense strength and courage to get over whatever issues you are going through.
Just like the social group we mentioned in the previous section, you can have a support group of all your close relatives or friends. If you feel your family will judge you, reach out to your closest friends. Explain to them how you have been feeling. When your friends have unconditional love for you, they will always be there to support you.
Sometimes, what also helps in dealing with HIV anxiety is a self-help course. We understand that this is a sensitive topic, and you feel uncomfortable talking to others. Therefore, you can enroll in “DBT for Social Anxiety“, a course that will help you deal with negative thoughts and feelings.