Living Confidently With HIV – A Self Help Guide For People Living With HIV


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This is an invaluable book for those who have HIV or are close to someone who does. It explains with clarity the medical side of HIV, and discusses how to improve your quality of life and sexual well-being whilst living with HIV. The newly revised 2016 edition:

  • Provides help in accepting the diagnosis, adjusting to HIV, and finding positive ways to move forward.
  • Contains many helpful testimonials from people living with HIV
  • Comprehensively covers a wide range of issues important to those living with HIV, such as medication, sex and relationships, disclosure and much more.

The book has been written by Clinical Psychologists in the fields of Sexual Health & HIV, Mental Health, and Stress & Trauma, based on many years of experience, research, and work with people living with HIV.

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Living Confidently With HIV – A Self Help Guide For People Living With HIV

This is an invaluable book for those who have HIV or are close to someone who does. It explains with clarity the medical side of HIV, and discusses how to improve your quality of life and sexual well-being whilst living with HIV. It provides help in accepting the diagnosis, adjusting to HIV, and finding positive ways to move forward. Containing many helpful testimonials from people living with HIV, the book comprehensively covers a wide range of issues important to those living with HIV, such as medication, sex and relationships, disclosure and much more.

Why The Book Was Written

As Clinical Psychologists in the fields of Sexual Health & HIV, Mental Health, and Stress & Trauma, we have put this self-help book together based on our clinical, research and service experiences. Primarily, this book aims to talk frankly about the issues that people with HIV experience. As HIV is associated with much fear and stigma, this self-help book covers aspects of living with HIV that may be difficult for you to discuss with others. Fear of talking about HIV and HIV disclosure is a problem for many. We hope that this book will help to release some of your fear and work towards lifting some of the stigma that you may also be experiencing.

What People Say About The Book

“This sensitively written volume offers a rich overview of the difficulties and concerns facing people with HIV and provides a wealth of ideas on how to cope with this condition. Readers will gain enormously from this volume.”

Professor Paul Gilbert OBE, Phd, FBPsS, Founder and President of the Compassionate Mind Foundation, Best-selling Author of, `The Compassionate Mind’, Constable & Robinson, London

“Living confidently with HIV is required reading for anyone with HIV or caring for someone with HIV. Written in a clear and direct style, filled with helpful facts, practical tips and self-help guidelines, the reader will find this book an invaluable guide to living a more fulfilling life with HIV. I recommend this book with enthusiasm.”

Dr Robert L. Leahy, PhD, Past President of the International Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy, Best-selling Author of, ‘The Worry Cure: Stop Worrying and Start Living’, Piatkus Books, London

“When I was first diagnosed with HIV, over twenty-two years ago now, I assumed that I was going to die very soon. At the time, very little was known about HIV and the things it could lead to. There was no therapy or treatment available. And too many people had already died. I remember one of the things my doctor said to me: “You are going to have to learn to live with uncertainty”; and to an extent that remains true, as none of us really know what the future will bring. But there have been huge advances in medical knowledge and science since then.

In the meantime, however, this book is an invaluable manual for those who have HIV or are close to someone who does. It explains with real clarity what the disease is and what it means for someone caught up by it. It sets out the medical responses, the relationships with doctors and the health care system, the ways in which you can be determined to live well, and perhaps above all the emotional strength that can come if you seek it. It’s a book of self-help and self-understanding. It will provide comfort, guidance, courage, and confidence where they are very much needed. It is in a very real sense life-affirming.”

Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury (Chris Smith)

Who Is This Self-Help Book For?

This book is aimed at all adults living with HIV and people who would like to help and understand them. It is especially written for those who may experience issues of coming to terms with and adapting to having HIV, including:

  • People who are experiencing difficulties accepting their diagnosis or experiencing problems in adjusting to HIV and finding a way forward in their lives.
  • People who have health problems, which interfere with their ability to achieve their goals and who are unsure whether they can cope with the demands facing them.
  • People who are concerned about the effects of stress on their health and HIV progression.
  • People who are isolated in their experience of HIV; have limited social supports and are concerned about talking openly to others about having HIV.
  • People who are overwhelmed by emotions resulting from having HIV and are not sure on how to cope.
  • People who are able to identify specific changes they would like to make in their lives consequent to having HIV or those who have problems that they want to solve in relation to having HIV or some other aspect of their lives, which they no longer feel able to pursue but that they would like to re-engage in.
  • People who need to find new meanings to living as a result of having HIV, and who would like to enhance their sense of living for a future and making future plans.
  • Partners, carers, family or friends who would like to understand more of the issues facing people with HIV and how they can support and help them.
  • GP’s, therapists, healthcare professionals or lawyers wishing to gain an overview and better understanding of the challenges facing people with HIV, so they can provide compassionate and informed support.

As all people living with HIV are different, this book is written for a wide readership and provides general ideas that we hope will be useful for you. You may already be familiar with some of the information we share, but we do hope that there are also some aspects that will be new and helpful to you and others close to or caring for you.

What Can This Book Help Achieve?

This book can assist you in thinking about helpful ways to live with HIV. We hope that this book helps you achieve one or a few of the following:

  • Increased knowledge about HIV
  • Better adjustment to having HIV
  • Enhanced confidence in yourself despite having HIV
  • Good relationships despite having HIV
  • Increased life choices despite having HIV
  • Widened support networks
  • An improved quality of life with HIV
  • A more positive outlook and motivation for the future

In summary, this self-help book is aimed at addressing some of the psychological needs of people who are HIV positive. It answers frequently asked questions and it draws on our clinical experience of what has helped others with HIV. We hope that the book normalises the experience of living with HIV, creates hope for change and provides a way of learning new skills for readers.

“I will use this book as a guide to empower other women and men, too, on how to deal with any issues around their existence with HIV. It is my dream to see all HIV positive people, new and old, come out empowered and in control of their own lives after reading and using this book.

HIV is still surrounded by huge stigma, 25 years later on. Stigma not only makes it more difficult for people trying to come to terms with and manage their illness on a personal level, but it also interferes with attempts to fight the AIDS epidemic as a whole.

Living Confidently with HIV is a great book that is easy to read and use, with comprehensive up-to-date information on psychosocial issues and the best advice from those that really care and can talk from experience. So, a huge thanks to everyone involved in putting this book together. All chapters in the book address issues around being empowered to live confidently with HIV. I feel this book gives hope to all HIV positive people and makes a real difference!”

Memory Sachikonye, HIV i-Base co-ordinator for UKCAB

Additional Info

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Published: Published By The Oxford Development Centre, 2015
  • Language: English

Learn More About The Authors

All four authors of the book are respected professionals in their fields of work. You can find out more about Dr Claudia Herbert on her webpage.  The ‘Become Psychology’ website includes a detailed webpage with more information about Dr Robert Watson.

Liz Shaw
Consultant Clinical Psychologist

As a Consultant Clinical Psychologist I have a commitment to the field of HIV and Sexual Health Psychology and have been working in the field in the NHS in North London for the last fifteen years. I am also the chair of the Faculty of HIV and Sexual Health of the Division of Clinical Psychology in the British Psychological Society. Alongside my colleagues in the committee we have been encouraging research, conferences, responding to legislation and creating resources in order to improve the lives of our clients. I am always learning from my clients who themselves have to continuously rise to the challenges of the changing HIV epidemic and how it affects them. In my clinical work I am eclectic using mainly cognitive behavioural, systemic and psychodynamic approaches to help people with their problems. I hope that this book reflects my wish to improve the lives of people with HIV and give them positive ways of coping.

Erasmo Tacconelli
Chartered Clinical Psychologist

I qualified as a Clinical Psychologist in 2000. Throughout my clinical career I have worked within many types of psychological services and I have worked extensively within the field of Sexual Health and HIV. My duties in Sexual Health are broad and include therapeutic interventions, consultation, teaching, research and supervision. My therapeutic approach is eclectic. Particular areas of interest for me clinically are helping people with sexuality, transsexuality, intersexuality, gender, sexual assault, sexual dysfunction and sexual infection problems. I particularly like empowering people in coping with stigma and discrimination. It has been a pleasure working on this book, as I firmly believe that the concept of living well with HIV needs to be more open and accessible to the public.

Robert Watson
Chartered Clinical Psychologist

Since qualifying as a clinical psychologist in 2001 I have worked in various NHS sexual health and HIV clinics in London. I have worked with many people who have felt stuck in their lives because of HIV and have been struck by the resilience and strength that I have seen many HIV positive people use to overcome adversity. In addition to clinical work I am involved in research, teaching, training, and supervising other psychologists in the field of HIV and sexual health. My therapeutic approach draws on cognitive behavioural therapy and systemic therapy, and more recently mindfulness based cognitive therapy. Through my work in the field, I try to make a contribution to countering the stigma, discrimination, and disempowerment associated with HIV in our society, and improving the quality of life of people affected by HIV.

Claudia Herbert
Chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist

I am a Chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, a UKCP Registered Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, an EMDR Consultant and an Associate Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). I was born in 1960 in Germany and have lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 1981. I am the Founder Director of the Oxford Development Centre, which incorporates Oxfordshire’s Independent Psychology Service and The Oxford Stress and Trauma Centre and two other services, which have been in existence since 1997. I am a specialist in trauma psychology and have, as such, worked with many people having to come to terms with the shock of facing a life-threatening illness, such as a HIV positive diagnosis and have helped them adjust by living well with their chronic condition. I present at conferences worldwide and am regularly consulted by the media. I embed Western scientific understanding with holistic and spiritual healing approaches from Eastern cultures into my practice. I have published several academic articles, a chapter in a book, two books on trauma, which have been translated into different languages worldwide and one Italian book on trauma. I am the editor of other books, including a series of self-help books for adolescents and the book `Resolving Relationship Difficulties with CBT’. I am a member of the editorial board for The Journal of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy and hold responsibilities at executive level for a number of national organizations.

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