Challenges HIV-positive youth face
Social Problems
Feeling "old before my time"
Low Self-Esteem
Money Problems

Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is an important part of staying healthy! This may sound kind of "out there", but it’s true! Lots of HIV-positive youth have problems with self-esteem. After finding out you’re HIV-positive doesn't do much to boost your self-image. Actually, finding out often does the opposite. The real challenge is often to believe you are valuable and worth it.

“I don’t think about the future. I feel stuck in a rut, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow and, to be honest, I don’t care. I don’t feel like I’m worth it.”

“Finding out I had HIV made me really doubt myself and I lost my pride as a gay man.”

"When I found out, I just wanted to stay in my house and never have sex again. I have now been working through these feelings with a therapist, and I've come to the conclusion that even though I have HIV, I deserve the same life as my friends. I won’t let my spirit die. For all my flaws, brokenness, and mistakes, I don’t want to miss out on life."

Guilt is usually the reason people start to feel worthless. But guilt does not lead to a quality life—good self-esteem does. Somehow you need to learn to work through the guilt, forgive yourself (if there is indeed something to feel guilty about), and move on to feeling good enough about yourself that you make and want to keep yourself healthy and enjoying life.

Low self-esteem can stop people from taking the most basic care of themselves. Low self-esteem can shorten life, because if you don't believe in yourself or love yourself you are not going to do the things you need to do to stay alive and well.

It doesn't matter how you got HIV. Everyone has to face the same challenge of learning to live with it and doing everything possible to stay healthy or get healthy. Your life is worth fighting for! You are important and need to believe in yourself, in your worth, and in your right to have full, long life—in spite of all the hard things you may be dealing with. If you are struggling with self-esteem issues, get help! Find a therapist, a pastoral counselor, a doctor, or even a good, loving friend, and get the help you need to lift your self-esteem. [Check out the Getting Help section for more information about places you can go in your area to talk.]

Hospital for Sick Children University of Toronto Positive Youth Outreach CATIE