|A personal account: HIV -
Apr 2, 1998
This is not so much a question, as a desire to communicate to others who are unsure/afraid/anxious as to whether they have HIV, that the number one thing to do, by far, is to get tested. Insecurity of whether or not I had HIV took control of my life. The opportunity for infection for me (Heterosexual vaginal intercourse) happened in Europe. Although I used a condom, I later found out that my partner had used intravenous drugs. Terrified, I recalled that I had fingered her, and that at the time, I had cuts on my fingers. I began to search the Internet daily and to examine myself to see if I had signs of HIV. In my mind, I did. I had lost a lot of weight, I had funny bumps on my face, my skin was dry, I even had mild episodes of bloody diarrhea. One day I woke up and looked in the mirror, and my tongue had bumps along the sides. I was utterly convinced that I had HIV. What aggravated my despair was that upon returning from overseas, I had become engaged, and had unprotected sex with my fiancee. After a few months, she began to complain about headaches, nightsweats and joint pain. I was facing the most horrible dilemma of my life. Not only did I think that I was going to die, but that I had stolen the life of the woman I loved. I could not, for anything, tell her that I was possibly infected. I hid it from everyone, and at times, even myself. Finally, after several times of picking up the phone, and hanging up, I scheduled an appointment at Whitman-Walker clinic to get tested. It had been over 8 months since the opportunity for infection. I walked to the clinic and sat in a room with at least 30 other people. I thought I was going to feel ashamed, or out of place. I did not. Everyone was there for the exact same reason: fear of the unkown. It was heartening. I took the test, which was Orasure, it was easy and painless. As I put the little stick into the vial, I took a good hard look at it, and resignedly closed the cap. The two days to wait were strange, but I felt so much better that at least I had taken a step to regain control of my life, rather than remaining in the dark. When I was walking to the clinic to get the results all I could imagine was that somewhere in a file was the fulcrum of my life. Sitting there, waiting, was difficult, but not as difficult as the past 8 months of fear of willing to find out. I, fortunately, was negative. In the parlance of testing, I "closed the window." All the help and support of sites like these, and the genuine compassion of the Whitman - Walker clinic made the process bearable, and eased the veil of mystery over AIDS and HIV. I am eternally grateful to The Body for its no nonsense advice, mixed with humor and compassion. I would just repeat to anyone who is afraid, or uncertain, get tested, and don't be afraid to rely on others.
| Response from Mr. Sowadsky
Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. I hope other people will learn from your experience and advice.
If you have any further comments, please feel free to e-mail me at "firstname.lastname@example.org" or call me at (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!
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