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Dustin Martinez

Just Diagnosed: How to Take Charge of Your HIV Care

Just Diagnosed: How to Take Charge of Your HIV Care

Watch Texas native Dustin Martinez discuss the steps he took to take charge of his HIV journey. 

The Switch is a video series about sharing positive lifestyle and health routines to help you thrive while living with HIV. In this series, you will hear from people living with HIV from varying backgrounds, with a focus on southern states where HIV is disproportionately prevalent. Listen to them talk candidly about positive changes they have made in their daily lives, including their approach to HIV treatment. The individuals share their lived experiences and the impact making “the switch” has had on them.

For Dustin Martinez, finding out he was diagnosed with HIV meant giving himself a fresh start by taking control of his health. 

“Back in 2011, I had just gotten out of the military, living back home with my family, I kind of was at rock bottom. I didn't have a job. I was trying to get back into grad school and discovering that diagnosis was tough.” 

Dustin realized he needed to be proactive. 

“So, getting on the right meds with the right doctors and ensuring that I was on top of my health constantly, that allowed me to ground myself and just focus on that. And since then, just going to the doctor every three months and getting checked up and doing my blood work and staying on top of my health. Before my diagnosis, I really didn't even care about my health. So, yeah, I think that was a big switch for me.”

Dustin immediately implemented a regimen that became routine, providing structure to this switch in his life. He was able to find comfort in his diagnosis knowing how much support he has received from his wellness team and the community of those who care about providing resources for living with HIV. That’s his secret to finding comfort.

“Everything comes with time, right, at your own pace. So, whenever you're comfortable enough to speak about it, to get treatment, it comes with time. You have to be comfortable with it but know that there's someone or there's people out there that really care about you. There are organizations that really care about you. There are tons of resources out there, so don't be afraid to seek that out.”

When asked about advice he would offer to patients who are just diagnosed with HIV, Dustin insists that you have to take control of your treatment by staying educated.

“Your health is the biggest thing in this life that you need [to stay] healthy. We're our own biggest champions of our own health. So, my advice to anyone that just discovers that they're positive or in any fashion of health, just learn as much as possible about anything that's out there that's going to help you in your journey to being healthy and just being a positive person for yourself.”

He also stresses being cognizant of your mindset. 

“You have to be your biggest advocate. Absolutely. And I think a lot of people, especially newly diagnosed, kind of shared across the board is it's kind of a feeling of loss of control. And so, there's kind of that moment where it's like, OK, well, I want to keep living, I want to have a full life. This is where medications and treatment options are available. There are all of these things happening, but it's just a matter of taking charge of that for yourself and making sure that you're on the treatment journey that's best for you.”

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