Frequently asked questions about living with HIV

HIV postive people can live a normal life. In the photo two people are laying down in each others arms and looking each other lovingly.

Page last reviewed 12.10.2020

Living with HIV can raise many questions concerning for example quality of life and sexuality.

Am I going to live as long as everyone else?

As long as you are taking your HIV medication, your life expectancy is the same as it would be without HIV. When you take your medication regularly you can live as long as a person who does not have HIV. Without HIV medication the life expectancy of a person who has HIV is 10-12 years from the contraction.

The progress of your HIV infection depends on many things. The time it stays undetected, the medication you take, the virus’ resistance to medicine and your immunity, age, possible other diseases and other factors can affect how HIV develops in your body.

What can I do if I’ve faced discrimination?

If you have faced discrimination or inappropriate treatment, you can get help and support to resolve the situation by contacting the patient ombudsman with the help of Hivpoint. You can bring the discrimination forward to other officials and instances. If you feel you were discriminated in healthcare you can bring the incident forward to patient ombudsman, equality ombudsman or regional state administrative agency (AVI).

Can I travel even if I have HIV?

People living with HIV can travel almost everywhere, but some countries have restrictions for long term stay. When planning your travels, you should check the destination country’s restrictions from the UNAIDS website.

Do I need to tell my employer about my HIV infection?

You don’t need to tell your employer about your HIV status. HIV infection doesn’t stop you from having a job. People living with HIV can work in most professions, even in social- and healthcare.

In some professions there are restrictions about medication or state of health of the employee. For example it’s not possible to work as a peacekeeper if you have HIV.

You can tell about your HIV infection in occupational health care if you wish. For you to get the best possible treatment it would be good to tell the doctor about all your chronic illnesses and medications. All doctors and health care employees are bound by confidentiality laws. This means that an employer can’t hear about your HIV status from the occupational health care. Your employer cannot ask you to take an HIV test.

In working environments it’s illegal to discriminate someone for their state of health.

Who should I tell about my HIV infection?

Everyone has the right to decide if they want to tell their family members or friends about their HIV status. It’s important to not be alone with your illness, so it would be good to tell at least one person. You can get support and counselling from Hivpoint.

In Finland the law states that you have to tell your sexual partners about your HIV infection. If you don’t tell your sexual partner, it can lead to criminal charges even if there isn’t a possibility for transmission. Read more from here (in Finnish).

Can I still have sex?

Yes! We all have the right to a healthy and fulfilling sex life. HIV doesn’t affect this right and people living with HIV can have sex. It’s important to remember to take your medications regularly. When you take your medication regularly, your virus levels stay undetectable. When your viral level is undetectable, you cannot transmit the virus to anyone. Even during unprotected sex.

The Hivpoint position is that prevention of sexually transmitted infections is everyone’s responsibility when the sexual activity is entered into on an equal footing and is consensual. Although there would not be a risk for HIV transmission, unprotected sex comes with the risk of other STIs.

Hivpoint’s position is that a person living with HIV should not face legal consequences if they do not inform about the HIV infection, when there is no risk for transmission. Read more about Hivpoint’s position here (in Finnish).