As World Aids Day nears, people like me begin to think more about the virus and the effect it has on our lives. I was diagnosed with the HIV virus on Sept. 14, 2006, after a breakup with my girlfriend of two years.
As I sat there in the clinic and waited for the nurse to draw my blood, I knew something was wrong. Although I had no idea that anything would come out positive in my tests for sexually transmitted diseases, something didn’t feel right that day. When I finally heard the news, I knew that my life had changed forever. All I could think of was that God hated me, and that I would be unable to live a normal life anymore. I went home from the clinic and called my recent ex-girlfriend, letting her know what I had learned and told her that she needed to be tested. I wasn’t mad at her at all, I was more or less mad at everyone at the time. Two weeks later, I learned that she was the person I had gotten the virus from. I still did not blame her, she didn’t know at the time. She learned at some point that she had actually gotten the virus three years earlier from her previous partner.
I was young, only 14. I was so young, and I’d had only had one sexual partner. My family was just confused at first. They didn’t even know that I had been sexually active. My mother was probably the most distraught. She cried for about three days straight becuase she believed that I had ruined my entire life. My friends were understanding for the most part. They knew that HIV/AIDS was becoming more common. I think they saw it is a reality check for themselves. I know that many of them got tested very soon after I told them. Overall, people were very understanding about everything. On the other hand,the results shocked me to the point of serious depression. I couldn’t eat or sleep without getting sick. I found it difficult to get up in the morning, purely from a lack of determination. I felt as if my life had been taken away before it even began.
Eventually I was forced to return to school and be around all the people who I had begun to envy. Probably the most persistent question I had was “why me?”. I didn’t understand why I was being punished so harshly after only having sexual relations with one person whom I had known for years. My ex-girlfriend returned to school at about the same time I did. After the initial shock wore off. Somehow she seemed to be handling it alright. But, as I began to get back into the routine I had before I heard the results, I began to realize that life wasn’t completely hopeless. Even if I might not ever be able to have a family because of the fear of transmitting the virus, I was still alive and hopefuly would stay that way for many years. I still had my friends and many other people who supported me through the worst part of my life.
After adjusting to the idea that my life might be cut short at any time and that I might not ever be able to have a relationship with a woman again, I began to work on making the most out of my life. AIDS is a virus which will cause me trouble for the rest of my life, but I decided to push on and make the best out of what I had. I began to concentrate more on my schoolwork and my family. I finally graduated from High School and was accepted into Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. After about two months of college life, the greatest blessing I could have ever imagined came my way. I met the girl who eventually became my wife.
My wife and I started out by dating every few days whenever we could get away from all the work involved with attending college. The dates were simple and I knew that I had to take things very, very slow. But, after only two weeks of dating, I decided to tell my wife, Kayla, that I was tested positive for the HIV virus back in 2006. I have never seen anybody smile as big as she did that night. After I finally got the big news out and in the open, she told me that she also had the virus! Although this is something that most people would hate to hear, I was happier than I had been in years! We began to talk about our experiences with the disease. We discussed our initial reactions, how we managed to continue our lives, and what our hopes were for the future. After only dating for a year, we finally got married.
I am required to take daily medications, three of them. They are just three simple pills (one of which, Selzentry, I take twice daily) used to make sure that the HIV cells do not spread and continue to multiply. Basically, they just keep it in check to try to stop the disease from getting worse. The three pills are Retovir, Sustiva and Selzentry. I simply take the pills daily and they seem to work great. So far I haven’t had any real trouble with the disease itself, although I do take extra precautions just to make sure. I always make sure that I avoid any situation where I could get sick. I got the common cold last year and was worried sick the whole time, but I got better and life went on as usual. I just try to avoid making my situation worse by staying healthy by eating right, taking my medications, and exercising daily. My doctors continue to tell me that everything is looking good so far and that I can expect to live for a good twenty years longer, so long as I keep staying healthy and do what they tell me. I like my chances.
I am now married to a wonderful woman and have a beautiful, young, healthy daughter of my own. I am young, but I believe that being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS was probably the greatest gift I have ever received. If it hadn’t been for the disease, I would never have gotten to the place I am at in my life. Knowing that you have the disease is similar to knowing that you have been sentenced to receive the death penalty. On the other hand, there is a great difference between someone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and someone on death row: the person with HIV/AIDS has hope! I hope that someday somebody will find a cure for my disease. I hope that I will be able to live a long and healthy life with my family. HIV/AIDS was the biggest wake-up call I could have ever imagined. It gave me the will to move on and the hope that someday I will be able to overcome the disease that limits me!