Finding out

The day was 9th of November, 2009; I was having my college lesson on the concepts of computer script languages – what a day it was. I had a call from my ex-girlfriend on the other end of the phone line screaming! "Oh baby, please forgive me for I have ruined your life! I have tested positive to HIV."

At this moment my whole world collapsed under my feet and I had the most frightening shock effect which made my entire body shake with fear. I started having flashbacks to many ways I could have avoided this awful fate that’s now staring me in the face. That was me thinking from a very ignorant place because I had no clue about this gigantic monster of infection which she’s just told me that I could have been exposed to. I locked myself in the college toilet and cried my eyes out.

I do not have words to describe the series of feelings that ran haywire in my mind. I was throwing blames back and forth in my mind, blamed my ex, then blamed myself and even wanting to blame the society at large. Then I went online as soon as I got home and started HIV research in earnest, as I know that the likelihood of me having it was so high as I never used a condom throughout my relationship with my ex-girlfriend, a relationship which only ended one month before she did her test.

The information I found online reassured me that HIV might be such an unpleasant prognosis, it certainly was not the end of my life and it ain’t even the beginning of the end.

That night I spoke at length with my ex-girlfriend and told her that she shouldn’t just assume that she is to blame as neither of us could have wished what has just happened and we both were irresponsible to have had unprotected sex throughout our relationship.

We talked about the future, my current girlfriend who I might have just exposed to the same infection and how if I have the infection, what that will mean to our future relationships.

I went for the test on the 11th of November. My legs were shaking with fear as I approached the building but I had to give myself a little pat on the face to instill some needed courage and withstand whatever predicament that lies ahead of me.

They talked me through the procedures of doing the test and what will happen if I’m not so lucky to be in the clear. By this time, I have accepted the worst and have already started making mind calculations on how to tell my friends and family. It took just 60 seconds after taking my blood sample for the nurse to confirm my worst nightmare. "It is a positive result," the nurse said.

For some strange reasons, all my hang ups and fears about HIV disappeared as I left the testing clinic. I immediately phoned two of my closest friends…they seemed more frightened than I was about the whole thing and talked to me as if I would be dead in a few weeks or months ahead.

Now, the dilemma became how to tell my girlfriend, my family and the rest of my friends. That evening I started chatting on MSN with my girlfriend as usual, then I switched the conversation to sexual health and went in depth about HIV in particular. Then she started to suspect that something might be wrong and asked me if anything had happened that made me want us to educate ourselves about HIV? I immediately came clean and told her everything.

To my surprise, she took it very well and promised that it wouldn’t change anything between us and we would go on to have kids when we are ready. This single event felt like throwing a lifeline to me and I became relaxed about the diagnosis.

I waited to tell all my friends and family. I wrote long text messages [saying] that I have been tested HIV-positive and what the future holds now for me, which ain’t all that bleak. And I again directed everyone to acquaint themselves with the real information about HIV issues and to drop the stigmatisation that only arises out of ignorance.

I’m glad that I don’t have to protect other people’s ignorance anymore in thinking that the infection I have should define who I am. I would probably lose a few ignorant friends or even family members out of this but I’m perfectly fine with that. Just hanging out with only one person who ain’t ignorant is worth a multitude of narrow-minded fools who think that HIV-infected individuals should hide away in shame.

Having been diagnosed with HIV has also brought a positive attitude to the way I see life. I have now become more health aware and have embraced the beauty that surrounds my daily existence. I’m studying with passion, seeking greater achievements in life and looking forward to raising a beautiful family sometime in the future.

For every one that is affected by this illness, I’d say to you "Your life doesn’t have to be defined by HIV, rather by what you make of it!"

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Finding support

By Pamella

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HIV testing

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Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.