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I was just 20
I just turned 20 a couple of months ago. How can I have HIV? What does that even mean?
I could not believe it. In high school I was the nice church going smart guy. I had a good mix of friends, but not really a ladies man. I graduated from high school a virgin.
I had been infected about 9 months prior, unbeknownst to me. I was really lucky to find out, it was a fluke really. I took a buddy of mine in to an STD clinic to get a test; he was having pain and a discharge from his penis. He did not have a car, so I being the nice guy I am drove him to the Health Department for an STD check. When I got there, I realized that I had to wait for him anyway and that I had never been tested for anything that I should. I went ahead and got the full meal deal, tested for all STD including HIV. I had no symptoms; really there wasn’t any cause for concern. I mean I had had unprotected sex, so I guess I did have reason to be concerned.
I had always been told by my Dad to never get a girl pregnant, “Wear a rain coat son”. I thought that was the only thing I really had to worry about. I was wrong, seriously wrong.
After being diagnosed, it was time to think about who I was going to tell. I told my ex-girlfriend and her roommate, who was also a close friend of mine. I didn’t know how to feel either; did they? They just held me and told me everything was going to be alright. Then I told my parents, my little brother and my grandparents. I told them all at once. I felt it was best that way. They could support one another and I only had to say it once. I knew they would be so disappointed, but I really needed their support.
That was the hardest thing I had ever had to do, maybe even still the hardest thing I have ever done. My mother cried like I had never seen. My father couldn’t even look or talk to me. My grandmother gave me a hug and my grandfather told me I had broken my fathers heart.
It was hard, hard for all of us. We have gotten over it now and all my immediate family and grandparents are very supportive. It really means a lot to me that they are, without them and some really good friends, I do not think I would be able to be alive today.
I quickly learned all I needed to know, I started treatment. That was tough. Not long after, I stopped taking meds for awhile, but am know taking them again. I am, well, pretty healthy I guess.
I can say things aren’t as bad as I thought. At this point though, there have been some very scary times. In other words, it hasn’t been easy, but I have hope and I have today. One day things will be tougher, but hopefully, I will be ready.
I just wish I would have had knowledge of HIV and AIDS and its realities; what it meant for me. At first, I was in self destruct mode. I thought, what’s the use; I am just going to die anyway. I learned that things were different then I had thought, and decided I truly wanted to live. I wanted to experience life for all it was, however long that might be.
Take care of you and your partners, you have no idea what you stand to lose. I can live and I have learned so much, I wish I could have learned it a different way, but this is the way it is. The thing that gets me the most is that I can give this to my future spouse, I worry about my children or whether I should have them and feel the guilt of being HIV positive.